This article explores the career of Jacob Behrman (1921–2012) and the growth of Behrman House from a small Jewish bookseller to the leading publisher of Jewish religious school textbooks. Behrman’s success owed in part to his ability to appeal to the vast center, to gauge correctly his consumers’ needs and reflect their outlook and values, to eschew partisanship and play down ideological differences, and to swim with the tide. In addition, I make the case that Behrman House elevated the field of Jewish education by raising the quality of Jewish textbooks, and that through its ascendency played a role in redefining the goals of Jewish education and its undergirding ideological thrust. Behrman was not driven by a single model of Jewish education or a monolithic vision for the Jewish community, but rather, by business exigencies and a connection to Jewish peoplehood and culture.
Daniel Delis HillAs Seen in Vogue: A Century of American Fashion in Advertising (Lubbock, TX: Texas Tech University Press2004) 70. Dena and Green procured the wool from Behrman family friend Manny Povar who operated a mill in Torrington CT and was the main supplier of wool for GGG Clothes (which was bought out in 1977 by Martin Greenfoeld Clothiers).
Louis BernsteinChallenge and Mission: The Emergence of the English Speaking Orthodox Rabbinate (New York: Shengold, 1982), 259–262; Lawrence Hoffman, Beyond the Text: A Holistic Approach to Liturgy (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press1987) 68.
Jacob Behrman to David Behrman May 131970(Behrman House Papers Collection of David Behrman).
Alexi Friedman“Jewish Educational Publisher Holds to Tradition but Ventures into the Digital Age,”Star LedgerSeptember 15 2013; Julie Wiener “Start Up Nation Takes on Hebrew School” New York Jewish Week June 4 2013.