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“Making Teachers . . . Who do not Treat Their Profession As an Occasional Business”: Leopold Zunz and the Modernization of the Jewish Teacher Training in Prussia*

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AbstractAlthough Leopold Zunz has spent most of his years in Berlin, he had led an active life. German-Jewish history rightly remembers him first and foremost as the iconic figure of the Wissenschaft des Judentums (the Science of Judaism) whose inspiring charisma has lasted to this day. However, Zunz has also left influential traces in the German and German-Jewish history as a preacher, pedagogue, and political contemporary. This essay ponders a facet of his biography which thus far has rather eluded further attention. When the entire educational system of German Jewry underwent a modernization process of transformation, Zunz had not only given fresh impetus for the momentary education at his Gemeinde-Knabenschule (Berlin’s former Jewish Freischule where Zunz served as principal). In addition, Zunz was among the most significant advocates of a Jewish faculty at schools. He sought their professionalization through raising the general level of qualification. Zunz’s efforts in this are the subject of the following discussion. The focal point will be set on Zunz’s years as principal of the Jewish Lehrerseminarium (Teachers’ Seminary) in Berlin which offered training to young prospective Jewish teachers between 1840 and 1850.1


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