By now, schools have communicated return-to-school plans to their respective parent bodies. We hope and we pray the transition to September learning will be medically safe, educationally successful, emotionally and psychologically safe.
Though questions persist and absolute certainty in decision-making is impossible, our community has arrived at this place with relative calm and an accompanying sense of the mutual respect and abiding decency that each of us owes the other.
Intra-societal feuding however, still characterizes the discussion in the United States about the uncertainties surrounding re-opening our schools. As we did last week, we are featuring an essay this week that highlights some of the deep anguished feelings about return-to-school.
The essay is entitled “Don’t skip out on Jewish day school this year. It’s an ethical issue.” It was written by Jack C. Bendheim and published in the Times of Israel last week. Bendheim is president of SAR Academy & SAR High School in Riverdale New York.
He writes from a yeshiva perspective but on behalf of Jewish education broadly. By pointing to parental decisions about whether or not to enroll their children this year in Jewish school as a matter of ethics, Bendheim courts controversy, even though he purports to qualify his words and his opinions. The qualification does not work. But his views are important to read.
We reproduce his concluding words, for they are the gravamen of the message about Jewish education.
“For centuries, the Jewish people have confronted physical danger, spiritual threat, economic challenge. Through it all, the Jewish people have championed Jewish education, even in the most dangerous of times. It is now our turn. We must take a stand for Jewish education. These great communities, our schools, and their leaders have worked so hard for so long to provide children with the Jewish education that we have come to love and respect. We are all in it together to preserve our day school system. We must do all that we can to keep it strong for a post-COVID world.”
Be safe. Stay safe. Be well. Stay well. Be strong. Stay strong.