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The Jewish Elite and the Children of the Poor: Jewish Apprenticeship Programs in Nineteenth-Century France

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 October 2009

Lee Shai Weissbach
University of Louisville, Louisville, Ky.


The desire of the Franco-Jewish elite to foster the acculturation of French Jewry during the nineteenth century is a theme that has been explored in considerable detail in recent years. Historians of French Jewry have described the development of an ideology that identified Judaism primarily as a religion, have analyzed the attempts of various communal institutions to mitigate Jewish distinctiveness, and have demonstrated that the leaders of French Jewry adopted a policy of social integration both because they were attracted to the mainstream culture of France and because they felt that acculturation was the implied price of empancipation.

Copyright © Association for Jewish Studies 1987

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1. The most extensive treatment of Jewish apprenticeship training to date mentions non-Jewish efforts to aid apprentices in only one brief paragraph about Protestant projects, and in that paragraph their role is seriously misrepresented; seeSzajkowski, Zosa, “Yiddishe fachshulen in Frankreich in 19th yahrhundert”, Yivo Bletter 42 (1962): 81120.Google ScholarGirard, Patrick, Les Juifs de France de 1789 à 1860 (Paris, 1976), p. 119,CrossRefGoogle Scholar states that it was “the particular structure of the Jewish population” which accounts for its involvement in the training of the lower classes, “even though the diffusion of education among the poor classes was not the most ardent desire of the 19th-century bourgeoisie.” Most of the works which mention Jewish apprenticeship projects convey the impression that these projects were unique by discussing them only in reference to Jewish communal concerns; see, for example, Berman, Léon, Histoire des Juifs de France (Paris, 1937), p. 407;Google ScholarSzajkowski, Zosa, “Occupational Problems of Jewish Emancipation in France, 1789–1800” Historia Judaica 21 (1959): 127129;Google Scholar idem, Jewish Education in France, 1789–1939 (New York, 1980), pp. 15–16; Helfand, Jonathan Isaac, “French Jewry during the Second Republic and Second Empire (1848–1870)” (Ph.D. diss., Yeshiva University, 1979), pp. 139143;Google ScholarGreen, Nancy Lascoe, “Class Struggle in the Pletzl: Jewish Immigrant Workers in Paris, 1881–1914” (Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 1980), pp. 175ff;Google ScholarGraetz, Michael, Ha-Periferyah haytah le-markaz: perakim be-toldot Yahadut Tsorfat ba-me'ah ha-tesha' 'esreh (Jerusalem, 1982), pp. 6571.Google Scholar Even those rare studies that do not totally disregard the French context in which Jewish social action took place make only fleeting references to it: compare Marrus, Michael, The Politics of Assimilation: The French Jewish Community at the Time of the Dreyfus Affair (Oxford, 1971), p. 79;Google Scholar and Albert, Phyllis Cohen, The Modernization of French Jewry: Consistory and Community in the Nineteenth Century(Hanover, N.H., 1977), p. 136.Google Scholar

2. See Szajkowski, “Yiddishe fachshulen, ” passim. See also idem, Jewish Education, pp. 15–16;Raphaël, Freddy and Weyl, Robert, Juifs en Alsace (Toulouse, 1977), pp. 378381;Google Scholar “Societe protectrice de la jeunesse israélite et des arts et métiers de Bayonne” (Bayonne, 1867), pp. 7–13; “Société d'encouragement pour les arts et métiers parmi les israélites de Metz, ” Archives israélites 5 (1844): 408–412;Cahan, Isidore, “Les anciennes et les nouvelles moeurs israélites à propos de la Société d'encouragement à Marseille” Archives israélites 13 (1852): 4549.Google Scholar

3. See Kahn, Léon, Les professions manuelles et les institutions de patronage (Paris, 1885), pp. 2334. See also “Rapport sur le réglement d'institution de la Société israélite des amis du travail” (Paris, 1825).Google Scholar

4. Kahn, Professions manuelles, pp. 35–42; Compte-rendu de la Société de patronage des apprentis el ouvriers Israélites de Paris, année1859 (1860), années 1872 à 1876(1877), année 1877 (1878), années 1878–1879(1880); Compte-rendu de Ve'cole de travail… de Paris, annees 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883 (1884), années 1884, 1885, 1886(1887), années 1892–1893 (1894); L'ORT à ses amis: Bulletin de liaison de I'ORT France, n.s. 14 (February 1981).

5. Kahn, Professions manuelles, pp. 43–46, 50–54.

6. Kahn, Zadok, “Instruction et travail” Sermons et allocutions adressés à la jeunesse israeélite (Paris, 1878), p. 162.Google Scholar

7. Compte-rendu…Paris (1877), p. 6.

8. See Ministère de l'agriculture, du commerce, et des travaux publics, Enquête sur l'enseignement professionnel…, 2vols. (Paris, 1864), passim; Jean-Pierre Guinot, Formation professionnelle et travailleurs qualifiés depuis 1789(Paris, 1946), pp. 67–159;Artz, Frederick B., The Development of Technical Education in France, 1500–1850 (Cambridge, Mass., 1966), pp. 133140,Google Scholar 201–216;Prost, Antoine, Histoire de I'enseignement en France, 1800–1967(Paris, 1968), pp. 305310, 341–343.Google Scholar

9. In 1873, there were already some three hundred patronagesocieties in the country, serving about eighty thousand children; see Annales de lêAssemblee nationale: Compte-rendu in extenso des seances40 (Paris, 1873): 517 (February 3, 1873). For the nineteenth-century sociétés de patronage in Paris, seeManuel des oeuvres et institutions de charité de Paris (Paris, 1852), esp. pt. 1; E. Knoepflin, Annuaire de la charité (Paris, 1863), esp. pts. 4, 5; Manuel des oeuvres et institutions religieuses et charitables(Paris, 1877), chap. 3; Office central des oeuvres de bienfaisance, Paris charitable el prévoyant (Paris, 1897), esp. chaps. 21–24. On the societe de patronage organized in cabinetmaking, seeWeissbach, Lee Shai, “Entrepreneurial Traditionalism in Nineteenth-Century France: A Study of the Patronage industriel des enfants de l'ébénisterie” Business History Review 57 (1983): 548565;CrossRefGoogle Scholar on the société de patronage organized in artificial flower production, seeBoxer, Marilyn J., “Women in Industrial Homework: The Flowermakers of Paris in the Belle Epoque” French Historical Studies 12 (1982): 411412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

10. Manuel des oeuvres(1852), p. 33.

11. Ibid., p. 34.

12. Knoepflin, Annuaire, pp. 274–275; also Compte-rendu…Paris (1877), p. 4.

13. Quoted in Amédée D'Andigné, Armand de Melun: Unapôtre de la charité (Paris, 1961), p. 168.

14. Audiganne, Armand, “Du Mouvement intellectuel parmi les populations ouvrières— L'enseignement industriel en France” Revue des deux mondes, new period, 10 (1851): 886.Google Scholar

15. “Del'oeuvre des apprentis, ” Annales de la charité 1 (1845): 473. See also “Du patronage des enfants employes en manufacture, ” Annales de la charité 3 (1847): 115.

16. Ministère de l'agriculture, Enquête, vol. 1, p. 170.

17. Comple-rendu… Paris (1894), p. 16; Isidore Cahen, “Société de la jeunesse israélite— Distribution des prix,” Archives israélites 21 (1860): 83.

18. “Société de patronage des apprentis israélites de Nancy” (Nancy, 1899), p. 4.

19. “Société protectrice… de Bayonne,” pp. 4–5.

20. Quoted inRiancey, Charles de, “Distribution des prix aux jeunes apprentis des quartiers Saint-Denis et Saint-Martin” Annales de la charité 12 (1851): 507.Google Scholar

21. Quoted in Poterat, Abbé de, Lepatronage des apprentis d Orléans (Orléans, 1902), p. 23.Google Scholar

22. Decaux, Paul, “Les patronages d'apprentis et les cercles d'ouvriers” (Paris, 1874), p. 4.Google Scholar

23. Compte-rendu… Paris (1887), p. 12; Decaux, “Les patronages, ” p. 4.

24. “Société protectrice… de Bayonne, ” p. 6; Compte-rendu…Paris (1887), p. 12

25. Cacheux, M. E., Etat acluel en France du patronage et des L'enseignement de apprenlis (Paris, 1889), p. 66; Poterat, Patronage, p. 31.Google Scholar

26. Compte-rendu…Paris (1887), p. 12; “Patronage des jeunes ouvrières de la ville de Paris, ” Annales de la charité 7 (1851): 101.

27. “Société protectrice… de Bayonne, ” p. 20.

28. Weyl, S., “Société d'encouragement des arts et metiérs parmi les Israélites de Metz, ” Archives israélites 16 (1855): 9293.Google Scholar

29. Poterat, Patronage, p. 24.

30. C., A., “Distribution des prix auxjeunes apprentis du faubourg Saint-Antoine, ” Annales de la charité 6 (1850): 492493.Google Scholar

31. Compte-rendu…Paris (1887), p. 11.

32. Prague, H., “Chronique de la semaine,Archives israélites 46 (1885): 408.Google Scholar

33. Compte-rendu…Paris (1880), p. 4.

34. Cacheux, Etal actuel, p. 67; “Société de patronage des apprentis garcons et filles du XVIIe arrondissement” (Paris, 1888), p. 14.

35. Compte-rendu…Paris (1887), p. 12.

36. Decaux, “Les patronages, ” p. 24.

37. Cahan, Isidore, “Chronique du mois, ” Archives israélites 19 (1858): 345;Google ScholarCompte-rendu…Paris (1860), p. 2. See also Piette, Christine, Les juifs de Paris (1808–1840): La marche vers l'assimilation (Quebec, 1983), p. 43.Google Scholar

38. Cacheux, Etat actuel, p. 69; “Déposition de M. Leraoine, ” Ministère de l'instruction publique et des beaux-arts, Commission d'enquête sur la situation des ouvriers el des industries d'art (Paris, 1884), p. 8.

39. Compte-rendu…Paris (1860), p. 2.

40. Camp, Maxime Du, Paris bienfaisant (Paris, 1888), p. 411; Compte-rendu… Paris (1878), p. 8.Google Scholar

41. Office central des oeuvres, Paris charitable, p. 239; “Société de patronage…XVIIe arrondissement, ” p. 8.

42. Cahen, “Société de la jeunesse israélite, ” p. 83.

43. Melun, Armand de, “Oeuvre des apprentis et des jeunes ouvriéres, ” Annales de la charité, n.s. 4 (1863): 537.Google Scholar

44. See Rothschild, James de, “Bibliothèque de la société de patronage des apprentis et ouvriers israélites, ” Bulletin de la Société de protection des apprentis et des enfants des manufactures, 1869, pp. 226229.Google Scholar

45. Compte-rendu … Paris (1877), p. 4; Compte-rendu… Paris (1878), p.2; Compterendu … Paris (1884), p. 6; Compte-rendu … Paris (1894), p. 14; DuCamp, Paris bienfaisant, p. 418.

46. Compte-rendu … Paris (1878), p. 8; Szajkowski, “Yiddishe fachshulen, ” p. 94.

47. Hallez, Théophile, Des Juifs en France: de leur étal moral et politique (Paris, 1845), p. 257Google Scholar. See also “Ecole Israélite d'arts et métiers à Mulhouse, ” Archives Israélites 5 (1844): 399–403; “L'école de travail de Strasbourg jugée par un publiciste Chrétien, ” Archives israélites 27 (1866): 405–406; “Société d'encouragement … Metz, ” p. 411.

48. See the brochure “Société de l'orphelinat de la Seine pour l'assistance et l'apprentissage des orphelins et des enfants abandonnés,” in Archives nationales (Paris), carton F17–12530.

49. “Patronage de l'enfance et de l'adolescence: Société de protection des enfants en danger moral” (Paris, ca. 1905), p. 9.

50. The list of charter members of the Société de protection des apprentis, in Bulletin de la Société de protection des apprentis et des enfants des manufactures, 1867, pp. 39–44, was compared with subscribers lists in Compte-rendu … Paris (1860), pp. 12–16, and in Compterendu … Paris (1877), pp. 34–44.

51. Compte-rendu … Paris (1878), p. 3.

52. From the song “Notre Patronage, ” in Chants des patronages (Saint-Saulve [Nord], 1909), p. 27

53. See material in Archives nationales (Paris), carton F17–12533.

54. See Weissbach, “Entrepreneurial Traditionalism,” passim.

55. See, for example, Leven, Manuel, “Distribution des prix aux ouvriers et apprentis israélites, à Paris, ” Archives Israélites 20 (1859): 26; “Société de patronage … de Nancy, ” p. 2.Google Scholar

56. Prague, “Chronique, ” p. 408.

57. Quoted in Raphaël and Weyl, Juifs en Alsace, p. 378; and in Cohen, David, La promotion des juifs en France à l'epoque du Second Empire (1852–1870) (Aix-en-Provence, 1980), vol. 2, p. 333.Google Scholar

58. See Kahn, , Professions manuelles, p. 24;Google Scholar “Biographie … Michel Goudchaux, ” Archives Israëlites 24 (1863): 754; Bloch, S., “Lyon, ” L'univers israëlite 11 (1855): 118119.Google Scholar

59. See, for example, Albert, , Modernization, p. 137;Google ScholarHelfand, , French Jewry, p. 142.Google Scholar

60. Cohen, , Promotion, p. 350.Google Scholar

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