KAHNSHTAM, AHARON


KAHNSHTAM, AHARON (1859–1921), Hebrew and Yiddish educator. Born in Plock, Poland, Kahnshtam studied law but decided to devote his time to the study and practice of education. In 1895 he was invited to direct a talmud torah in Lodz. His ambition was to modernize Jewish schools and to train competent teachers. A gifted teacher, Kahnshtam partially realized his dream in Lodz where, after working diligently, he succeeded in making the talmud torah a model school. He organized summer camps in Lodz for culturally deprived children where they were taught such subjects as farming and carpentry. In 1898, Kahnshtam was invited to head the school of the Society for the Diffusion of Culture in St. Petersburg. Kahnshtam served in this post for nine years, and when the Society decided to establish a teachers training school in Grodno, Kahnshtam was appointed director. This school attracted many highly intelligent young Jews, among them writers and scholars, who were devoted to Zionism, Hebrew reform, and Jewish education. During World War I, because of the Grodno school's proximity to the front lines, it was moved to Kharkov in 1915–16. However, in the new location the school's existence was precarious because of the decline in the number of students, the decision to make the study of Yiddish mandatory, and the political upheaval of February 1917. Kahnshtam became the theoretician and an organizer of the *Tarbut Society, which in the postwar period developed a network of modern schools in Eastern Europe. In 1918–19 he became the director of the Tarbut Society's teachers' school in Kiev, but the school functioned only for a very short time.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

M.A. Beigel et al. (eds.), Rishonim (1936), esp. 3–39.

[Judah Pilch]


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.