Idelsohn, David

Idelsohn, David

Born in Nikoleiv, Ukrain 1891
Immigrated to Palestine in 1905
Died in Vienna, burried in Tel Aviv in 1954


Idelson was an educator who worked with wayward youth. Pioneered in open education in Israel.

David Idelson was an educator that worked with wayward children and adolescents. He was one of the founders of the “children community” in Kibbutz Bet Alfa.

Idelson was born in 1891 in Nikoleiw in south-west Russia (Ukraine). Son of Joshua, of the Habad Hasidim, and Haya Rabinovitz. Up to his Bar-MItzva he was educated in “Heder” and in Habad, Yeshiva, latter got a secular education and got a diploma of 5 years of schooling in the governmental gymnasium. 

Idelson joined the Youth of Zion movement and was active in Jewish self defense when the 1905 Pogroms broke. 

During his activity he was captured by the police holding a gun but he escaped the police and succeeded to immigrate to Palestine at the age of 15.

In Palestine he worked in various jobs till admitted to a teachers seminar “Ezra” in Jerusalem and became part of a commune of shared economy.

During his schooling he joined the camp that pushed forward learning Hebrew, helped in providing books to Yeshiva boys, and was active in putting forth the Hebrew language and culture. Wa part in editing the “Zarzar” news paper who encouraged the revolt against teaching in foreign languages in the seminar. This activity resulted in the denial of graduation to all the class and avoiding the graduates from having positions as teachers in the “Ezra” schools.

In 1914 went for classes in psychology and pedagogic in Zurich and Berlin universities.

He returned to Palestine as WWI started and was arrested  by the Turks. Moshe Shlus helped prevent his deportation though his name was on the black list of recruitment refuseniks.

In 1915 moved to the village of Har Tuv where he taught for 4 years. During this time he wrote a journal in which he documented his special system for teaching reading, writing and mathematics to young children. This journal was used to transmit information among teachers and from teachers to students. Because the writing took 3 years it was open for everyone, children and faculty to write in it.

When the front got closer to Har Tuv, he was arrested by the Turks under suspicion of spying for the British and was transferred to Jerusalem.

He succeeded to ascape the night before the prisoners where to be transferred to Damascus.

In 1919 he thought for 5 years in a girls school in Tel Aviv in his special system for elementary school children.

he was member of the committee for curriculum in elementary schools and thought seminar students.

In 1920 was one of the founders of  the experimental “working school” that was closed after one year for lack of financing.

In 1923 was one of the founders of the school for working parents, which became the flag ship of the labor movement, the same education principles where applied.

In 1925 he was among the founders of the first “children community” in the Kibbutz, and he directed the school in Beit Alfa till 1929.

Later he went to study updated educational methods in Europe. 

While in Russia he could visit important education institutes including the experimental institute of Prof, Stanislav Schatzki. His conclusions and learnings from these visits where published in local journals.

In 1932 he married in Berlin Ester Bat Zvi Choen.

In 1933 studied in the psychology department for the treatment of problematic children after which he was certified by the psychoanalytic institute in Berlin as a therapist for abandoned neurotic children and adolescents. 

In 1934 started to work in the department for children in Tel Aviv municipality. Under his leadership a club for delinquent children, home for working children, municipal homes for children in Har Tuv, the girls home, and workshops for professional instruction, 

In 1935 became a member  on the Palestine psychoanalytic society.

Was the chief pedagogic inspector.

Published a lot of influential articles in local education journals and was considered the expert number one in special education (Hielfpedagogy). in Israel.

Idelson died in Vienna from a heart attack and was brought to Israel where he was buried. Left a wife and son, Uzi.