Rabbi Philip Graubart, Chief Jewish Officer & Director, Advanced Institute for Judaic Studies at San Diego Jewish Academy has posted an article for eJewish Philanthropy in which he reflects upon the deeply lasting achievement of Jewish education in an American social milieu in which most young Jewish adults are simply trying to find their own personally meaningful way through the hardscrabble of their lives without joining the increasingly fractious politics of left or right.
Entitled “Jewish Day Schools and the Canary Mission,” the article points out how the ideas, values and concepts imparted in Jewish day schools touch the core of human, let alone, Jewish existence and form a buttressing support when, inevitably, someone encounters personal crisis.
In a tone of apparent surprise, Rabbi Graubart writes “there’s not a universally agreed upon body of knowledge that conveys Jewish literacy or confidence or identity, certainly not at our school, an independent, pluralistic Jewish day school. But…I realized that we do provide radically relevant guidance on the key human crises that all our students will face.”
“It seems ridiculously obvious to have to say it,” Rabbi Graubart adds, “but if we really want to create a lasting, dynamic Jewish identity for American Jews, we have to show that Judaism is relevant on a day to day, deeply personal level.
“And which institutions provide precisely these teachings?” he asks. “The organizations that will carry us forward are the old fashioned ones: synagogues and Jewish schools. That’s where you’ll find educators and rabbis who dedicate their professional lives to teaching Jewish wisdom’s ongoing relevance.”
It is a message educators have been conveying since the first intensive Jewish education was offered in our community over 100 years ago. Judaism is indeed radically relevant on a day-to-day personal level. Moreover the message, in modern times, also speaks to the excellence of the overall education – Jewish and general studies – provided today in our diverse day schools.
The children who graduate from the day school, for the most part, are well equipped intellectually and emotionally to forge their own paths through the uncertainties, stresses and unceasing demands of life. And they will do so knowing who they are as Jews. This is a blessing to themselves and their families and to the wider community.