What Kind of Self Can a Pupil's Letter Reveal? The Tarbut School in Nowy Dwór, 1934–1935

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A rare collection of some ninety letters written between 1934 and 1935 by boys and girls who studied in the Tarbut primary school in Nowy Dwór Mazowiecki, approximately 35 kilometres north-west of Warsaw, provides a unique insight into the social and emotional life of children who attended Hebrew-language elementary schools in Poland between the two world wars. The letters were part of a classroom project for pupils to write to pen pals in Palestine, an established practice in the Tarbut institutions in Poland, intended both to train pupils in Hebrew writing and to create a living connection with the Yishuv. Most were addressed to the school’s director, Zvi Plesser, on the eve of his departure for Palestine. They reveal not only loyalty to the school and to Plesser himself, but also the deep and complex relations between the pupils and teachers and the torn and divided selves of the pupils, who are far from possessing the confident Zionist identity the school sought to impart.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-198
Number of pages18
JournalPolin: Studies in Polish Jewry
StatePublished - 2024


FundersFunder number
Israel Science Foundation300/19


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