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NAOMI PRAWER KADAR, PH.D. (1949 - 2010)

Naomi Prawer Kadar, Ph.D., z”l, is the inspiration and driving force behind the Naomi Foundation. Naomi was a lifelong educator and a Yiddish scholar who inspired her students, colleagues, and all who knew her to reach their potential. With her unique energy and passion, Naomi transformed each classroom she entered into a second home for her students.

Naomi’s spirit and contributions continue to make a profound impact on the lives of thousands of students around the world through the initiatives of the Naomi Foundation.


Raising Secular Jews

Yiddish Schools and Their Periodicals for American Children, 1917-1950

Based on Naomi Kadar's dissertation, this unique study of Yiddish children's literature in America casts new light on secular Yiddish schools in the first half of the 20th century. Rejecting the traditional religious education of the Talmud Torahs and congregational schools, these Yiddish schools chose Yiddish itself as the primary conduit of Jewish identity and culture. Four Yiddish school networks emerged, which despite their political and ideological differences were all committed to propagating the Yiddish language, supporting social justice and preparing their students for participation in both Jewish and American culture. Focusing on the Yiddish children’s periodicals produced by the Labor Zionist Farband, the secular Sholem Aleichem schools, the socialist Workmen’s Circle and the Ordn schools of the Communist-aligned International Workers Order, Naomi Kadar shows how secular immigrant Jews sought to pass on their identity and values as they prepared their youth to become full-fledged Americans.

“One reads this book in order to reconnect with a time when secular Jews cared passionately and fought with each other furiously over ideas and over ideals. This is the real legacy that this group left behind for us to learn from and to emulate. And this is why this book is so informative and so important for our generation to study. “
“…Dr. Kadar’s book is a compelling read and an indispensable source for anyone concerned with the past and future of Jewish education in America. “
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“Kadar’s book [is a] significant remedy to the dearth of studies about Yiddish children’s literature…in the United States.”
“Rais­ing Sec­u­lar Jews is a detailed, well-craft­ed, and per­cep­tive his­to­ry of the eight children’s mag­a­zines used in the Yid­dish schools. The author’s dis­cus­sion of the art work and lit­er­a­ture in the mag­a­zines is par­tic­u­lar­ly insight­ful.”

Naomi’s Life and Legacy: A Timeline

Formative Years

  • 1947

    Naomi’s parents, Lola and Kiwa Prawer, were from Sosnowitz, Poland and belonged to the Poalei Tzion Zionist Youth Movement. After losing nearly all their relatives in WWII, they married in a displaced persons camp and immigrated to New York.

  • 1949

    Naomi Carol Prawer is born.
    She is the eldest of her siblings Murray (Muz) and Renee (Rivke).

  • 1957-1967

    Naomi attends Sholem Aleichem Folkshul 45 in the Bronx, New York, and graduates from United Jewish Mitelshul high school. She was a Style Editor for Yugntruf, Youth for Yiddish.


  • 1970

    Naomi graduates with a BA in literature from City College of New York after studying abroad at the Teachers Seminary & People’s University in Herzeliya during her junior year.

  • 1973

    Naomi graduates from the American Student Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a Teaching Certificate in English as a Second Language.

  • 1996

    Naomi pursues her passion for language at Columbia University where she earns her MA in Yiddish Studies.

  • 2007

    Naomi earns her PhD in Yiddish Literature from Columbia University. Naomi writes her dissertation on Yiddish children’s literature in America between 1917 and 1950.


  • 1969

    Naomi meets the future love of her life, Avraham Kadar, at a New Year’s Eve party in Jerusalem.

  • 1976

    Naomi and Avraham are married in Shulchan David in Jerusalem. Two years later they are blessed with their first child, Maya, and the next year their second, Nadav.

  • 1983

    Naomi and her young family move to the United States and first settle in the Bronx, New York. They later move to Rockville, Maryland.

  • 1987

    Naomi’s youngest child, Einat, is born.

  • 1989

    The family moves to Bedford, New York where Naomi teaches and studies and Avraham sets up a medical practice.

  • 2006

    Maya marries Gil Kovalsky. Two years later, Naomi welcomes her first grandchild, Eden to the world. Within a few years, Eden’s sister Alma and brother Adam are born.

  • 2016

    Einat marries David Kricheli, and their daughter Noam, Naomi’s fourth grandchild, is born in 2019.

  • 2018

    Nadav marries Tami Reiss, and their daughter Ruth is born in 2020.

Career Highlights

  • 1973

    Naomi launches her career teaching English and ESL in Israel. The seeds of her passion for education are sewn as she saw first hand the transformative impact she had on her students.

  • 1983

    Naomi begins work in New York at the Workman’s Circle. She also teaches Yiddish in numerous high schools and synagogues.

  • 1987-1989

    Naomi teaches Yiddish in Rockville, MD.

  • 1990-1995

    Naomi continues teaching while also working as the National Director of the Workmen’s Circle Schools.

  • 2007

    Naomi starts teaching Yiddish at the Tel Aviv University Summer Program.

  • 2008

    Naomi teaches Yiddish at the Free University of Brussels Summer Program.

  • 1995

    Naomi receives the Attran Fellowship and the Center for Israel and Jewish Studies Fellowship.

  • 1996

    Naomi receives the Littaur Fellowship.

  • 1997

    Naomi receives the GSAS President’s Fellowship.

  • 1998

    Naomi receives the German Department Scholarship at Columbia University.

  • 2000

    Naomi teaches Yiddish at the Uriel Weinreich Program in Yiddish Literature, Language and Culture through YIVO/Columbia University. She teaches here again in 2003 and 2006.

  • 2002

    Naomi begins teaching Yiddish at Columbia University.

  • 2003

    Naomi begins teaching Yiddish at the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) in New York.


  • 2010

    Naomi’s family starts the Naomi Prawer Kadar Foundation to honor Naomi’s memory and support the causes she held dear.

  • 2011

    Teach First Israel/Hotam’s Teacher Training Institute is named “Hotam Naomi” because of Naomi’s inspired commitment to teaching and her involvement in Hotam’s founding. The first Annual Naomi Memorial Lecture is given to honor Naomi at YIVO and later the lecture moves to Naomi’s alma mater, Columbia. The lecture makes scholarly topics in the field of Yiddish accessible to a wider audience.

  • 2012

    The Tel Aviv University Yiddish Summer Program is named in Naomi’s honor.

  • 2013

    Dr. David Roskies teaches as the Naomi Prawer Kadar Visiting Professor of Yiddish at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

  • 2019

    Teach First Israel (Hotam Naomi) trains its 1000th educator to serve in schools in the geographic and social periphery. It remains one of the leading teacher training programs in Israel and in the prestigious Teach for All network.

Bibliography & Publications

  • Stylist Editor for Yugntuf Magazine

  • Book review in Kultur un Lebn

  • Yiddish Hagode for the Workman’s Circle Naomi Prawer Kadar, trans and ed.

  • Guide to Teaching Jewish Literature to Children
    Naomi Prawer Kadar and Roselyn Bresnick-Perry

  • Di kats der payats; The Cat in the Hat in Sholem Berger’s Yiddish translation
    Naomi Prawer Kadar
    Mendele Review, Vol. 7, No. 10, Sept, 30, 2003

  • Far di Kinders Vegn: Yiddish Periodicals for American Children 1917-1950
    Naomi Prawer Kadar’s Doctoral Dissertation

  • “A nayer min kinder-literatur afn amerikaner bodn” Afn Shvel 346-347 Winter/Spring 2009-2010.
    English Translation: “Leon Elbe’s Yingele Ringele — A New Kind of Children’s Literature on American Soil.”
    Naomi Prawer Kadar and Leon Elbes Yiingele Ringele

  • Raising Secular Jews: Yiddish Schools and Their Periodicals for Children, 1917-1950
    Naomi Prawer Kadar
    Brandeis University Press, 2016