The solitude of rural teachers: Hebrew teachers in galilee moshavot at the beginning of the twentieth century

Yair Seltenreich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article examines the need rural teachers felt for solitude and the place it took in their emotional world. Solitude was not seen by the teachers as a substitute for social life but, rather, considered as enriching it. Unlike loneliness, solitude was sought after and craved as it represented voluntary self-fulfilment in an environment that was considered culturally and often emotionally unfriendly, at times even hostile. Solitude became at the same time a barrier against bigoted and conservative local societies and a symbolic emotional space in which cultural craving could find a place. Teachers felt the need to preserve substantial distance while at the same fulfilling a kind of beneficial “mission civilisatrice”. Expressions of teachers’ solitude, common to various rural environments at that period, will be examined through the test-case of Hebrew settlements (= moshavot) in Galilee, where the interpretations of the idea of solitude seem an appropriate reflection of similar attitudes in larger rural European scopes. The article will explore the following issues: the origins of teachers’ solitude as mental response to social tensions, the appearances of intimacy, apparently spontaneous but in fact totally controlled in order to preserve the symbolic hedges of solitude and intimacy, different expressions solitude could take and the way offences were considered as attacks on solitude as an emotional refuge. Finally, the article will go through the solitary worlds of one such teacher, Yehuda Antebi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-594
Number of pages16
JournalPaedagogica Historica
Issue number5
StatePublished - 3 Sep 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Emotional refuge
  • Galilee
  • Intimacy
  • Rural education
  • Solitude

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • History


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