The present source consists of a comprehensive treatise (15 printed pages, approximately 3400 words) laying out the philosophy of education that first appeared in June 1821 as the program of the Hamburg Israelite Free School Israelitische Freischule. School programs in the 19th century customarily functioned as invitations to the public on the occasion of the open examinations given once or twice annually to demonstrate the level of students’ knowledge and thereby advertise the school’s capacity to educate. In addition to information about the number of students, faculty, and patrons of the school, most contained a succinct essay stating the school’s conception of its purpose.
Eduard Israel Kley, the author of the present treatise, led the Hamburg Israelite Free School Israelitische Freischule, founded in 1815, from 1817 until 1848. Previously he had delivered sermons in the private Reformed temple of Israel Jacobson in Berlin. Kley brought with him to Hamburg Protestant-influenced elements frowned upon by the traditional synagogue: sermons in the German language, chants with organ accompaniment, and confirmation ceremonies instead of the Bar and Bat Mitzva. Thanks to its publication in David Fränkel’s periodical Sulamith, the treatise became known all over the German-speaking world.
Eduard Israel Kley, “The Spirit of the Israelite Elementary Schools,” in: Sulamith: a Periodical for the Advancement of Culture and Humanity among the Israelites, 6 (1821), ed. by David Fränkel, pp. 383-398. [Excerpt from pp. 383-386] (translated by Richard S. Levy), edited in: Key Documents of German-Jewish History, <https://dx.doi.org/10.23691/jgo:source-27.en.v1> [February 24, 2021].