225 years of Jewish school in
10 years Jewish Secondary School Berlin
Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786), who came
as 13year old boy from Dessau to Berlin, posed the question how a modern
Jewish school system should look like. How could the implementation of
enlightenment values be in a Jewish education?
The Jewish Free School was founded in 1778
by students of Moses Mendelssohn. Besides religion, Jewish history and
Hebrew, also secular topics such as geography, biology, languages were part
of the schedule, which were open also to children from less privileged
families and until 1818 even to non-Jewish boys. The school fee was
calculated upon the income of the parents. 1862 the school moved to the
building in Große Hamburger Strasse 27, which was reconstructed extensively
Click to enlarge!
1933 the number of students increased considerably due to expulsion of
Jewish students from the public school system. In those years the trial
was undertaken, to prepare the Youth – since 1931 also girls were
admitted to the school – as good as possible for potential emigration.
On the 15th of April 1942 the school had to be closed, because according
to a new law Jewish children were not to be educated any longer.
The building became a deportation
collection point thereafter. During the GDR a professional school was
housed in the same building. After the reunification of Germany, the
building was returned to the Jewish community.
Around the same time, the question arose, if for the children, who had
reached the end of the existing Jewish primary school, a Jewish
secondary school could be established. Since in the 1990s Berlin was the
community with the most rapidly growing Jewish population world-wide
outside Israel, due mainly to a high influx of Jewish immigrants from
the former Soviet Union, the first Jewish secondary school (Gymnasium
and Realschule) in Germany after the Shoa was established in September
1993 in the historical building. At the moment 280 Jewish and non-Jewish
students attend the Jewish secondary school. In Germany private schools
get financial support by the state. Without such a support it is nearly
impossible to start and to maintain a private school. The condition -
given by the state - is, that a certain percentage of the students are
not part of the religious community which maintains the school.