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Schoolman Family Papers

 Collection
Identifier: P-716

Scope and Content Note

The Schoolman Papers reflect Dr. Albert P. and Mrs. Bertha Schoolman's staunch dedication to Jewish education, Jewish causes, and Israel. Bertha Schoolman, a lifelong member of Hadassah, assisted thousands of Israeli youth as chairman of the Youth Aliyah Committee. Her diaries, photos, scrapbooks, and correspondence record her numerous visits to Israel on which she helped set up schools, met with Israeli dignitaries, and participated in Zionist Conferences and events. The collection includes a 1936 letter from Hadassah founder, Henrietta Szold, praising Mrs. Schoolman's work, as well as a letter from the father of Anne Frank, thanking Mrs. Schoolman for naming a Youth Aliyah center the "Anne Frank Haven" after his late daughter.

Equally committed to Jewish ideals, Dr. Albert Schoolman was deeply involved in Jewish education throughout his life, and is best known for establishing Camp Cejwin in 1919. The collection includes minutes of meetings, camper and staff applications, lists of camper awards, camp activities and bulletins, and even a copy of the camp's menus. Included in the collection is a 1935 train ticket from New York to Port Jervis, where the camp was located.

Dr. Schoolman's involvement in the Central Jewish Institute, the National Council for Jewish Education, and the American Association for Jewish Education is also reflected in the collection with minutes of meetings, correspondence, and information about anniversaries and events sponsored by these educational institutions.

The Schoolman papers uncover the lives of two deeply committed, focused, and devoted believers in education, Zionism, and Judaism. Their devotion is reflected not only in the material relating to their professional accomplishments, but in the material they collected privately, which includes an Israeli stamp collection, books, journals, and newspaper clippings concerning events in Israel, Jewish education, and Zionism, and countless letters of personal correspondence with friends and family.

The collection is valuable to researchers studying Jewish education in the United States in the first half of the 20th century and to researchers studying Hadassah, specifically the work of Youth Aliyah.

Dates

  • undated, 1889-1994

Language of Materials

The collection is in English, Hebrew, Yiddish and German.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at mmeyers@ajhs.org.

For reference questions, please email: inquiries@cjh.org

Biographical Note

Albert P. Schoolman (1894-1980)

Hailed as a pioneer in the field of Jewish education, Dr. Albert P. Schoolman was actively involved in Jewish education throughout his life as an innovative teacher, administrator, and writer. However, but he is perhaps best known for establishing Camp Cejwin in 1919.

Born to Leon and Frieda Leibson in Siwalki, Poland in 1894, Schoolman immigrated to the United States with his family at age 13, where he attended Townsend Harris High School. Though Schoolman graduated from City College of New York (CCNY) in 1917 with a B.S. in engineering, he ultimately decided to pursue a career in education, and he received an M.A. from Teacher's College of Columbia University in 1922. Schoolman also graduated from the Teacher's Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, which awarded Schoolman an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters in 1953.

Schoolman had been involved in Jewish education prior to his university training, serving in 1912 as a member of the group for Jewish education, organized by Dr. Samson Benderly, and from 1916-1918, he was principal of the Girls' Preparatory School of the New York Bureau of Jewish Education. Schoolman was also involved in the founding of the Central Jewish Institute, and he served as its director from 1918-1945.

Samuel I. Hyman founded the Central Jewish Institute in 1917 as a Jewish education community center. The center was intended to represent "the art of Jewish living." By hosting Hebrew afternoon classes, club activities, and lecture series for adults, all on its premises on East 85th Street in the Yorkville neighborhood of Manhattan, the CJI leaders hoped to show that Jewish spiritual life could be maintained despite American conditions of assimilation. At its peak, the Institute's Talmud Torah boasted an enrollment of 700 students and its close to 100 clubs had a membership of 3500. After 25 years CJI closed because of population changes in the neighborhood, and its building was eventually turned over to the adjoining Kehilat Yeshurun synagogue, and now houses the Ramaz Day School.

In addition to enriching the educational thought and experience of the Jewish center movement and of Jewish education in general, the Central Jewish Institute also ran a summer camp, from which Camp Cejwin was born. (The name Cejwin was derived from the initials "CJI".) From its inception in 1919, Schoolman envisioned Camp Cejwin as an educational "bridge" between the school year and the summer months, and Camp Cejwin's activities were to be both recreational and educational in nature.

Schoolman also hoped that his Jewish educational summer camp would serve as a model for Jewish group living, lamenting that many children who attend CJI Talmud Torah did not practice the religious ideals that they learn in school. To emphasize the importance of Jewish living, Camp Cejwin activities included religious services every morning and weekly Sabbath celebrations. The camp observed the kosher dietary laws, and dramatics, music, and arts and crafts activities were all based on Jewish themes. Camp discussion groups addressed topics such as Jewish history, Zionism, American Jewry, the Bible, and the Ethics of our Fathers.

The first two summers that the camp operated it had an enrollment of 50 campers, located on rented campsites in the Catskill Mountains. Under Schoolman's dedicated and skillful leadership, Camp Cejwin flourished as a non-profit, self-sustaining enterprise. With the purchase of 700 acres of land in Port Jervis, NY, seven Cejwin Camp units were eventually able to provide accommodations for thousands of boys and girls annually.

His extensive involvement as director of Camp Cejwin did not preclude Schoolman's participation in such Jewish education endeavors as the National Council for Jewish Education (NCJE), and the American Association of Jewish Education (AAJE).

Founded in 1926 through the initiative of the Associate Staff of the Bureau of Jewish Education of New York, the National Council for Jewish Education provided for the cooperative exchange of ideas and experience among educators in different cities to improve the quality of Jewish education in America. Schoolman was among its founders, and he served as its president.

Schoolman was also one of the founders and the vice president of the American Association for Jewish Education, an organization that worked closely with the NCJE. Established in 1939 under Ben Rosen and Israel Chipkin, the AAJE worked on the national level to oversee the quality of Jewish education through conducting surveys, and functioning as a central coordinating and service agency to local bureaus. Schoolman's tasks for AAJE included the process of inviting Israeli teachers to American Jewish schools, and he served on the National Study Commission, which under Drs. Oscar Janowsky and U.Z. Engelman, undertook a seven-year survey of Jewish education in the United States.

Schoolman's interest in Jewish education was not limited to America; he participated in projects with Hebrew University to help further education in Israel. At the request of Dr. Judah Magnes in 1934, Schoolman helped establish a Department of Education and Teacher Training at Hebrew University. The department was opened in 1935 with Dr. Alexander Dushkin as its sole professor.

Schoolman was also a benefactor of the Hebrew University High School, established for the purposes of observation and practice teaching for the university students. The high school's physics laboratory is named in honor of Schoolman, and the school awards an annual Schoolman Physics Prize.

In 1960, Hebrew University's Institute of Contemporary Jewry established a Department for Jewish Education in the Diaspora. Schoolman, along with Judah Pilch, persuaded the NCJE to establish the Dushkin Fellowship to enable the teaching of Diaspora Jewish education to graduate students of education.

Schoolman's staunch devotion to Jewish education was paralleled in both his personal life, as well as in his commitment to other Jewish causes. He was a lifelong member of the Reconstructionist Foundation, and a follower of the Reconstructionist approach to Judaism, espoused by his synagogue, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ), and made popular by its founder Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, a teacher and friend of Schoolman.

An ardent Zionist, Schoolman was a lifelong member of the Zionist Organization of America. He first visited Mandatory Palestine, and then Israel, periodically during the 1930s and annually from 1948 to 1965. His wife Bertha was actively involved in Hadassah as National Vice President and National Board Member and as a leader of Youth Aliyah.

Throughout his lifetime, Albert Schoolman published dozens of articles on Jewish education in dozens of publications, including NCJE's magazine, Jewish Education, for which Schoolman served as a member of its editorial board.

Albert Schoolman had two daughters with his wife Bertha, Judith Herzlia Taller and Frima Carmella Kain. He died in 1980.

Bertha S. Schoolman (1897-1974)

A fervent Zionist and a lifelong member of Hadassah, Bertha Schoolman participated in Hadassah on all levels, making herself an integral part of its operations.

Born in New York to Frimet and Wolf Singer, Schoolman graduated from Hunter College in 1919, and from the Teacher's Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1921; she returned for several years of post-graduate studies. She displayed her penchant for teaching at the Central Jewish Institute, and as a director of Camp Modin in Maine. Her interest in Jewish education led her to serve as member of the Board of Directors of the American Association for Jewish Education. She also helped her husband Albert run Camp Cejwin, a Jewish educational camp in Port Jervis, NY, serving thousands of Jewish children.

One of Schoolman's greatest contributions to the Jewish community was her tireless volunteer work for Hadassah. The positions she held its national board include: National Secretary; National Vice President; and several chairmanships, including the Jewish National Fund, Political Education, Hadassah Medical Organization, and Machon Szold liaison; and Chairman of Hadassah's Youth Aliyah Committee.

Established in 1934, the goal of the Youth Aliyah Committee was to rescue, settle, and rehabilitate the young Jews of Europe who had been fled Nazi Germany. Schoolman's Youth Aliyah involvement began in 1947, when she accepted the Jewish Agency's request to serve as Co-Chairman of its Youth Aliyah Management Committee with Moshe Kol, and she retained the post until 1953.

For five years, Schoolman traveled between the United States to Israel, often putting her life in danger to further the causes of the Youth Aliyah. After being selected to lead Youth Aliyah, Schoolman traveled to Palestine, arriving there one day before the U.N. General Assembly voted for Jewish Statehood. Schoolman was riding in a convoy with the acting director of Youth Aliyah, Hans Beyth, to welcome Jewish refugees when bullets narrowly missed Schoolman and killed Beyth.

When Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus had to be abandoned in 1947 and 1948, Schoolman joined a small group of Hadassah leaders from America and in Jerusalem to assist the directors of the Hadassah Medical Organization.

Moshe Kol praised Schoolman for remaining in Israel throughout the War of Independence, comparing her to "a soldier in the front lines for who no place is too remote nor duty too dangerous."

Schoolman was Vice President and Chairman of the Palestine Committee, which evolved into a series of committees devoted to projects in Israel. The worldwide celebration in honor of Youth Aliyah, the World Jewish Child's Day, was organized under Schoolman who acted as the World Chairman of the Executive Committee of World Jewish Child's Day for four years.

Fluent in Hebrew, Schoolman was the first American Jewish woman chosen to chair the International Commissions of the Actions Committee and the World Zionist Congress when they convened in 1960 and 1964 in Jerusalem. Schoolman was also a delegate to the 30th annual conference of World Youth Aliyah in Jerusalem in 1963.

In addition to her Hadassah activities and her frequent trips to Israel, Schoolman also found time to serve on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Reconstructionist Foundation, and she was as a member of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ).

Schoolman published several articles in "The Hadassah Newsletter" and other publications on topics ranging from Israel and Zionism to education and women's issues.

In 1947 she was awarded the Outstanding Alumni Award of the Teacher's Institute, and in 1969 the Israeli Ministry of Defense awarded Schoolman the State of Israel's Fighter's Award in recognition of her unique contributions as a non-Israeli to the rescue and rehabilitation of Israeli youth.

Bertha Schoolman had two daughters with her husband Albert, Judith Herzlia Taller and Frima Carmella Kain. She died in 1974, and she was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

Albert P. Schoolman (1894-1980)

1894
Born to Leon and Frieda Leibson Schoolman in Siwalki Poland
1907
Immigrates with parents to the United States
1917
Graduates from City College of New York with B.S. in engineering
1918-1945
Director of the Central Jewish Institute
1919
Founds Camp Cejwin
1922
Graduates from the Teacher's College of Columbia University and the Teacher's Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary
1926
Founding of the National Council for Jewish Education
1934-1935
Establishment of the Department of Education at Hebrew University in Jerusalem
1939
Founding of the American Association for Jewish Education
1953
Awarded Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by the Jewish Theological Seminary
1980
Dies in Silver Spring, Maryland at age 86.

Bertha S. Schoolman (1897-1974)

1897
Born in New York to Frimet and Wolf Singer
1918
Graduates from Hunter College
1921
Graduates from Teacher's Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary
1934
Establishment of Youth Aliyah
1947
Receives the Outstanding Almuni Award of the Teacher's Institute
November 28
Arrives in Palestine serve as co-chair of Youth Aliyah Management Committee with Moshe Kol
December 26
Hans Beyth killed in Arab ambush
1948
Ramat Hadassah Szold Reception Center completed, given by Hadassah to Youth Aliyah
1953
Resigns from post as Co-Chair of Youth Aliyah Management Committee
1957
Anne Frank Haven established for children under age 12
1958
State of Israel prize for education awarded to Youth Aliyah
1959
Anniversary of Youth Aliyah celebrated in Jerusalem
1963
Serves as delegate at the 30th annual conference of World Youth Aliyah in Jerusalem
1969
Receives the State of Israel Fighter's Award by the Israeli Ministry of Defense
1974
Dies in New York at age 77. Buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem

Extent

31.15 Linear Feet (39 manuscript boxes, 1 half manuscript box, 10 oversized boxes)

Abstract

Albert and Bertha Schoolman (married in 1922) were pioneers in American Jewish education as teachers, administrators, and authors; devoted Zionists and active supporters of the State of Israel. Dr. Albert P. Schoolman (1894-1980) was the director of the Central Jewish Institute (CJI), and established the CJI summer camp offshoot, Camp Cejwin, located in Port Jervis, NY. Bertha Schoolman (1887-1974) served as a Chairperson in Hadassah positions including National Secretary and Vice-President, and the Youth Aliyah Management Committee from 1947-1953. Bertha was presented with the State of Israel Fighters Award for her work in Israel and both of the Schoolmans were active participants in Reconstructionist Judaism. Correspondents in the collection include Dr. Alexander Dushkin, Rabbi Mordechai Kaplan, Henrietta Szold, and Otto Frank. The collection contains information on Camp Cejwin, Hadassah, Jewish education, and Reconstructionist Judaism; among the materials included in the collection are: correspondence, camp memorabilia and records, articles and books, scrapbooks, photographs, film and audio tapes.

Arrangement

The collection is divided into seven series and one oversized materials series. Oversized materials includes several photographs, maps, awards, honors, publications, one artifact, and other materials. See box list for their locations.
  1. Series I: Personal, (undated, 1889- 1988)
  2. Series II: Camp Cejwin, (undated, 1926-1990)
  3. Series III: Hadassah, (undated, 1918-1987)
  4. Series IV: Jewish Education, (undated, 1914-1994)
  5. Series V: Scrapbooks, (undated, 1917-1957)
  6. Series VI: Photographs, (undated, 1921-1966)
  7. Series VII: Audiovisual Material and Sound Recordings, (undated, 1931-1933)
  8. Oversized Materials, (1915-1965)

Provenance

Frima (Schoolman) Kain donated her parents' papers to the American Jewish Historical Society in 2001.

Related Material

American Jewish Historical Society, Library, Newton Centre, MA and New York, NY:

Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA), I-75

Kehillah of New York City, I-274

Society for the Advancement of Judaism (SAJ), I-70



Hadassah Archives, New York, NY:

National Board, Youth Aliyah

(Note: The Hadassah Archives are on deposit with the American Jewish Historical Society and are located at the Center for Jewish History.)
Title
Guide to the Papers of the Schoolman Family, undated, 1889-1994 P-716
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Alisa Rose
Date
© 2003.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Description is in English.
Edition statement
This version was derived from SchoolmanFamily.xml

Revision Statements

  • January 2006.: Entities removed from EAD finding aid.
  • November 2020: EHyman-post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

Contact:
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New York NY 10011 United States