There Is No Alternative to Day Schools

December 11, 2009

Source: Forward 


Rabbi Irving "Yitz" Greenberg opines that Jewish organizations, individuals and community at large must redouble their efforts to guarantee the growth and flourishing of Jewish day schools. He sees these schools as institutions which are most likely to bring their students to choose to be active members of the Jewish people, committed to Jewish marriage and family life.


He believes that the "non-Orthodox, who are more exposed socially and more integrated in American society, need day schools more than the Orthodox. Thus far, however, the Jewish community has not been serious enough about making day school education accessible and affordable to non-Orthodox populations — which is why their rates of assimilation are higher."


In order to help stem the soaring rates of assimilation, "the community must muster its will to live and step up to pay the price — whatever it costs — for the highest level of Jewish education for its young. The Jewish mega-foundations and our community federations — even with depleted resources — remain best positioned to help. They should raid their reserves and spend down for the next few years if necessary. This is like the cost of a war for survival."


In order to reach the immediate goal of a massive increase in scholarship and tuition-subsidy money, the Jewish "community must “self-tax,” with foundations, federations and individuals taking upon themselves the obligation to fund Jewish education at a level that would generate the hundreds of millions of dollars needed. The long-term goal should be a comprehensive, community-supported system of intensive formal and informal Jewish education. The Jewish future demands nothing less."


In his blog, Peter Eckstein, a Florida educator, agrees with Greenberg's call for massive economic support of Jewish education, but since most of those seeking Jewish education have chosen the path of Congregational education, he believes that community organizations must “muster their will” to promote ALL Jewish education, embracing the diversity that is the strength of Judaism.


The talkback that developed at the end of Greenberg's piece, give a good picture of the range of views on the future of Jewish education.

Updated: Dec. 10, 2009