Before the interwar period, yeshivas (rabbinical academies) were unpopular among Polish Hasidim, who preferred a less formal educational paradigm centered on a shtibl (house of study). Following the First World War, however, shtiblekh emptied out and specifically 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 Horovits of Żelechów (1877–1943?)—elite scholars educated in traditional shtiblekh, who often looked on modern yeshivas with suspicion, if not outright enmity. This essay explores Engel’s biography as an educator, focusing on his vision of Hasidic education as an alternative solution to the interwar crisis that befell the Hasidic communities. It discusses Engel’s endeavors as a part of a broader phenomenon of the Hasidic renaissance aimed at redefining and reviving the original spirit of Hasidism, which interwar communities had supposedly lost. Finally, it shows how his controversial ideas 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 @Hakhme Lublin resulted in violent riots.


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pp. 313-342
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