Jonathan B. Krasner is the author of the National Jewish Book Award winning title “The Benderly Boys and American Jewish Education.” Krasner was also a finalist for the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature. His blog posts are featured on The Arty Semite courtesy of the Jewish Book Council and My Jewish Learning’s Author Blog Series. For more information on the series, please visit:
One of the greatest dilemmas I faced while writing “The Benderly Boys & American Jewish Education” was how to refer to the group of Jewish educators who were mentored by New York Bureau of Jewish Education director Samson Benderly. At first glance the answer seemed deceptively simple. Benderly referred to his protégés as my “boys,” and the moniker “Benderly boys” was widely used both by members of the group and their colleagues in the field.
And yet, the appellation is problematic. For one thing, in today’s world the term “boy” or “girl” when used in reference to a grownup has taken on a pejorative, or at the very least, a paternalistic connotation. This usage has largely become anachronistic, a relic of the “Mad Men” and “Driving Miss Daisy” era.