Last week, the Chronicle asked its readers in an electronic poll the following question: “How important is a Jewish day school education?” Of the 195 people who responded, 45% said it is very important; 31% said it is somewhat important; 13% said it is somewhat not important; 7% said it was not at all important; and 4% had no opinion. Comments were submitted by 44 people. A few follow.
If we expect ourselves and our children to value and take our Judaism seriously, and to be proud of our Judaism, there must be enough high-quality Jewish education. Our children need to receive the message from us that our religion is a treasure.
A Jewish day school education is a luxury. Many observant Jews manage to do fine with a public school education and synagogue participation (religious school, Shabbat and holiday attendance, etc.).
Most important is having the option available.
I feel that children should learn to respect others’ cultures and beliefs in a learning environment that is more like the real world. They can get their Jewish education from Sunday school and attending synagogue with their own families.
With the collapse of religious school participation, it is critical to educate new generations to ensure they know from where they come and to make them literate in Judaism while also having them feel they are a member of the tribe.
I wish I had sent my sons to Jewish day school. They would have been surrounded by other Jews instead of (like me) being in the minority. I think the education would have been better as well; plus, of course, they would have been immersed in our religion. Perhaps they would do more now as adults than just celebrate Chanukah and come to my house for Passover seder.
Jewish day school education for children is more likely to result in kids staying Jewish.
It is important, but most people would want the school to also have top-flight secular education. They don’t want to have to choose between a Jewish education and getting their kids into a good college.
Without day school education we do not have a chance to survive as a Jewish community. Assimilation and intermarriage is too strong to overcome without a good Jewish education.
As a product of the after-school Hebrew School model of the 60s who hated every moment of it, I can’t overstate the importance I attribute to a Jewish day school education. I lost many years of potential learning, and only came to appreciate our rich Jewish history and traditions as an adult. What an amazing thing it is to become proficient in Hebrew and Jewish learning at a stage of one’s life where you can just continue to build on a strong foundation! To know who you are and what that means from an early age is a gift beyond measure. PJC