Will the Real Franz Rosenzweig Please Stand Up?: Two Reflections on Two Educational Essays

April, 2010
The views of Jewish education articulated by Rosenzweig in his essays, “It is Time” and in “The Opening of the Lehrhaus”, are quite different. So different, in fact, that an account of how one mind can produce such different accounts is necessary. Following the lead of a 1950's popular television quiz show, the authors ask  “Will the Real Franz Rosenzweig Please Stand Up?” The authors end by exploring how the tensions within Rosenzweig's educational thinking can yield new insights into the contemporary challenges of Jewish education.
The authors conclude:
"Assessing these differences, we come to the conclusion that Rosenzweig had two great educational epiphanies. The first, he captured in the essay “Zeit Ist's” (1917) and tried, in his eyes, without success, to institutionalize in the Academy for the Scientific Study for Judaism. This initiative might have worked: The famous grandfather of neo-Conservatism, Leo Strauss, came to Kassel for a time to try to be both a scholar and community-based teacher. But the Academy became principally a research-oriented academic institution. The diaspora Jewish communities most committed to Jewish literacy for their children subsequent to Rosenzweig's day have invested either in day schools or in attempts to improve supplemental Jewish education on a voluntary basis, very different from the state-mandated form of Jewish education in Rosenzweig's day.
Rosenzweig's second epiphany led to the founding of the Frankfurt Lehrhaus and to a somewhat more successful city-wide and nation-wide program of adult Jewish education that continues to inspire adult Jewish education in Rosenzweig's Frankfurt am Main and way beyond. But two epiphanies do not add up to one coherent philosophy. As a philosopher of education, Rosenzweig left the tensions in these essays largely unresolved."
Updated: Oct. 05, 2010