Recollections of Mordecai Sortman

Rabbi Sortman taught his pupils to read and write in Hebrew in three classes, starting with the youngest at 4pm, and only finishing lessons at 9pm. "Father was very strict with his pupils... and used to cane boys." The cheder was held in his large house on Derby Street (where Chaim Weizmann occasionally came for meals). The classes ran from Monday to Friday, on Sundays after Shul, and on Saturdays for Barmitzvahs. There were regular examinations. The boys were taught in English and Hebrew; Sortman used no Yiddish at all. Students used to come back in the holidays to teach and to keep up their Hebrew.

 Much of Sortman’s spare time was devoted to the Maccabeans, and he wrote "books on Zionism, etc." He was not fanatically religious; he did not cover his head in the house, nor did he lead synagogue services. "He became a rabbi in Russia because he had taught children Hebrew and had been given his meals – and because he had no other trade." He was an enthusiastic fundraiser, and "was keen for people to give to the Zionist cause... He was a very mild man, but got excited about Zionism."


Mrs M Sullivan, daughter of Sortman (J240, Oral History Tapes, Manchester Jewish Museum)


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