How Bad Is The Day School Crisis?

May 27, 2009

Source: The Jewish Week 


Three very differing viewpoints about the severity of the crisis over the skyrocketing cost of full-time Jewish education and possible solutions were presented at a forum co-sponsored by The Jewish Week and the Jewish Values Network in Midtown last week, as three rabbis with firsthand knowledge of the crisis shared ideas. Rabbi Jeffrey Kobrin of Ramaz, Rabbi Adam Siegel of Ben Gamla School, and Rabbi Shmuley Boteach of Jewish Values Network participated in the forum moderated by Gary Rosenblatt of The Jewish Week.


Seeing inability to afford Jewish education as nothing less than an existential threat to Jewish continuity, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, argued that lobbying for federal aid for the secular portion of parochial education should be at the top of the Jewish agenda.


In a more optimistic analysis, Rabbi Jeffrey Kobrin, headmaster of the Ramaz Middle School on the Upper East Side, said the recession presented an opportunity for schools to re-examine their priorities and core values and to cut programs that are not essential to their mission.

Equally optimistic was Rabbi Adam Siegel, founder and principal of the Ben Gamla Academy, a public charter school in Hollywood, Fla., with a curriculum focus on Hebrew culture. He said that struggling for kids’ religious education is not a recent development in the American Jewish experience. Steps could be taken to cut day school budgets to meet the present crisis. He maintained that it was possible for day schools to be leaner and more cost-effective without entailing great sacrifice as is the Ben Gamla School which has an average class size of 25 students.

Updated: Jun. 07, 2009