Visit of Emperor Ferdinand V to the Jewish primary school

Visit of Emperor Ferdinand V to the Jewish primary school

Education was always essential in Judaism, and became again and again the subject of disputes between rabbis and community leaders. At the time of the Jewish enlightenment (Haskala) and social modernization, the education system became polarized between the traditional yeshivas and the modern schools influenced by the enlightenment. The curriculum of the so-called Primärschule followed the ideas of the Haskala and the Ratio Educationis (regulation of education in the Hungarian Kingdom published in 1777), and consequently included reading and writing in German and Latin, mathematics, geography and other useful skills. In 1820, the progressive members of the Bratislava community founded a Jewish primary school, which was visited by Emperor Ferdinand V on November 2, 1830. The emperor was accompanied by Alexander Rudnay, the Archbishop of Esztergom, and members of the royal family. The visit carried enormous importance for the community; Ignaz Weissenberg, a teacher at the school, made a drawing depicting the delegation. The reproduced lithograph became a tool to promote modern Jewish ideas. The idealistic representation of the modern Jewish school shows well-dressed Jewish boys without the traditional head-covering. In the adjacent room there are schoolgirls as well – a revolutionary thing at the time, when the education of girls was far from commonplace. The study room is large and bright, and decorated with portraits of the emperor, expressing the loyalty of the Jewish community. [ZT]

Bratislava, 1830, lithograph after drawing by Ignaz Weissenberg
Height: 38.5 cm, width: 46 cm
Lent by the Hungarian Jewish Archives, Budapest

GROSS, David: Primárna škola. In: GOLD, Hugo a kol.: Židovská náboženská obec v Bratislave v minulosti a súčasnosti. (Brno 1932) Bratislava 2011, pp. 74-81.

BÁNYAI, Viktória: Zsidó oktatásügy Magyarországon 1780-1850. Budapest 2005.