Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Connecting the Jewish Education Dots (New York Jewish Week article)

[As long as I’m stuck home with this stupid cold anyway, I might as well make some use of my time between naps and post something.]

Standing on one foot, the study cited in this February 17, 2006 article found that there was insufficient connection among families, schools, and informal programs such as Jewish youth groups and camps, and that that lack of coordination was negatively impacting the chances of Jewish children getting a decent Jewish education.

Here are two passages that I found particularly striking:

“While the study concluded that one-day-a-week Sunday school programs have “little positive impact over the long term,” two- and three-day-a-week programs, and especially supplementary high school programs, are seen as deserving more support — “unless we are prepared to write off the majority of young Jews,” since most do not attend day school.”

A day-school education may be the norm among the Orthodox, but there are an awful lot of non-frum families out there who can’t or won’t send their kids to day school. Writing us off is not in the long-term interest of even the Orthodox community. Hey, you guys have to get your baalei t’shuvah (returnees to Orthodox observance) from somewhere.

And here’s a statement to which I’d love to get some responses from those of you who are Jews by Choice:

“The report noted that with more converts and non-Jews involved in raising Jewish children as a result of intermarriage, the goals and language used in regard to Jewish education may differ, depending on whether the parent was born Jewish or not.

Those raised outside of Judaism often speak of wanting the child to have a relationship with God and learn about moral issues, while those born Jewish emphasize learning rituals and practices.

The contrast in outlook is “quite dramatic,” the report stated, describing the difference as “a Judaism of family and festivals as compared to a Judaism of faith and feelings.”

Wertheimer said it is important for schools “to understand how things are being heard.”

This article makes no mention whatsoever of the challenges faced by parents of children with disabilities in getting a Jewish education for their children. For that, see this New York Jewish Week article.


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