Mystic, Teacher, Troublemaker: Shimon Engel and the Challenges of Hasidic Yeshiva Education in Interwar Poland
Max Weinreich Fellowship Lecture in Polish Jewish Studies
Prior to the interwar period, yeshivas were virtually unknown among Polish Hasidim, who preferred a less formal educational paradigm centered on a shtibl (a small house of study). Following the First World War and an increase in secularization, however, the shtiblekh emptied out and Hasidic yeshivas were designed as an emergency measure to retain the young people within the Hasidic fold. Paradoxically, this educational revolution depended to a great extent on people like Shimon Engel Horowic of ?elechów (1876-1943) – elite scholars educated in traditional shtiblekh, who often looked on modern yeshivas with suspicion, if not outright enmity.
This talk will explore Engel’s idea of Hasidic education as an alternative solution to the interwar crisis that befell the Hasidic communities. This controversial idea an idea that put his life on a collision trajectory with the modernizing endeavors of Hasidic leaders in Poland and eventually ended his career when his conflict with the administration of the famous Yeshivat khakhme lublin resulted in violent riots.
Speaker: Wojciech Tworek is a postdoctoral fellow at the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto.
Presented by: the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research