January 20, 2020

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Back to school: Jewish kids’ worksheets (and doodles) from the Middle Ages


Israel’s National Library has a fascinating article showing children’s practice sheets to learning Hebrew from the Cairo Genizah, a thousand years of how Jewish children learned to write.

These sheets shows the child having written the Hebrew letters over and over again, just as they do today.

Younger children were given hand-crafted worksheets by their teachers with the Hebrew letters written in outline to be colored in. Coloring books are not that new!

But my favorite is this sheet of practicing writing the Hebrew alphabet that ends up with a series of doodles.

That’s pretty much what my schoolwork looked like as well.

Another article shows that women were very involved in Jewish education for both boys and girls, with many female teachers mentioned in the Cairo Genizah – sometimes together with their husbands, but also widows who needed a profession.

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