Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I'm reading Chaim Potok's The Chosen and have come across (in chapter 1) the claim that, during the Great Depression, in Brooklyn,

[e]very Orthodox Jew sent his male [high-school-age] children to a yeshiva, a Jewish parochial school, where they studied from eight or nine in the morning to four or five in the evening… Hebrew studies in the mornings and English studies in the afternoons.

Is this true? My impression — though I'm not sure on what it's based — has always been that most, or, at least, many, Orthodox Jewish boys at that time attended public school.

share|improve this question
According to Wikipedia the story is set in 1944? – Gershon Gold Nov 26 '13 at 16:13
@GershonGold, maybe most of it (I don't know), but not the part I quote above. – msh210 Nov 26 '13 at 16:57

My father, who grew up orthodox in Brooklyn during the depression era, went to public school for High School. He told me that although there were a few Yeshivas, and most of the children went to Public School in that period. He had a Hebrew tutor in the afternoon, yet he told me that many did not. Although there were some Yeshivos (Chaim Berlin, Torah Vodaath, and perhaps a few others) they definitely did not attract the majority of orthodox boys in those days. The claim by "Chaim Potok's The Chosen" sounds inaccurate.

share|improve this answer
This matches my father's experience. My father grew up in an orthodox household outside of New York (Galveston, Chicago, Houston) and attended public school, graduating high school in 1936. Religious studies were in "cheder" which I took as the equivalent of "Hebrew school" for my generation. – Dennis Nov 26 '13 at 18:02
Thank you, GershonGold, @Dennis. – msh210 Nov 26 '13 at 18:30

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.