Because Jewish education teaches “a worldview ahead of its time”
An openly raw, self-doubting, yet self-affirming article about sending one’s children to Jewish day school appears on the website of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals (jewishideas.org). Due to its cutting nature, the name of the author is not provided but it is clear that she has written On Making Peace with Sending My Children to Jewish Day School as much as an explanation to herself as to the general public.
The author writes that she “feels little kinship with most of the parents” who send their children to the school – primarily due to the differences in values, lifestyle and behaviors she seems to perceive in the other families that seem to flow from differences in their respective incomes and financial strata.
“This is what brings on the stomach pains—the presentation of such a different set of values and the lack of representation of my own values of a simpler, grassroots way of experiencing the world.
“You may ask: Why, then, send your children to this school—or any other Jewish Day School for that matter? Private school is as private school does: It’s private; it costs as much as a salary for many workers in this country; it’s not the “real world.” And I want my children to live in the real world. They do: Their family background is diverse, and they live in a socio-economically, racially, and ethnically diverse neighborhood where they play with neighborhood kids and see the range of human experience around them and in their home. But my husband and I are spiritual people who believe in the value of a religious education and the deep wisdom of the Torah. It is a worldview ahead of its time, a worldview that exhorts each person to actively pursue justice, to subjugate the material in favor of elevating what cannot be seen, to actively remember that we were slaves in a foreign land, and above all, to “walk humbly with God.” To be sure, humble need not mean poor—there is no taking of vows of poverty in Judaism. But humble to me is, very simply put, down to earth.”
The parental experience the author describes is from a community in the United States, likely, but not conclusively, New York City.
Nevertheless, some parents in our own community might share some of the author’s feelings. But it is important to emphasize – and for this reason we publish – the essence of the author’s reasons for sending her children to day school despite her misgivings over the fact that she feels she does not mesh socially with some of the other parents in the school.
Educating our children about the Judaism that is their true inheritance teaches them “a worldview ahead of its time, a worldview that exhorts each person to actively pursue justice.”
We thank the many individuals who have volunteered to take part in the focus groups that we hope will provide feedback about some of our plans to make day school costs more manageable.
Details of the focus groups will follow in due short course.