Rabbi Sacks’ Manifesto of Jewish Education

Dr. Daniel Rose, the educational consultant and content developer for the Office of (the late) Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, posted a thoughtful distillate this week on the eJP website of Rabbi Sacks’ core teachings on Jewish Education.

The author of the Ten Paths curriculum of Jewish education based on the thought of Rabbi Sacks, Rose wanted to mark the Shloshim of Rabbi Sack’s passing by beginning a conversation on what a system of Jewish education might look like if it were founded on the late rabbi’s ideas.
Rose called the Sacks’ distillate a Manifesto on Jewish Education.

Not surprisingly, there is a great deal in the Manifesto for us to read, learn, absorb and apply.

Rose propagates nine principles of applied Jewish Education. Each principle derives from a specific, typically inspiring, Sacksian teaching. Each principle is accompanied by a source reference, an elaboration, and a statement of related, core educational values.

The article is too long to reproduce in this space. We will, however, reproduce the first and the last principle (without the source references). Rabbi Sacks’ wisdom and his voice are discernible in every word.

  1. A Nation of Educators
    “About to gain their freedom [from Egypt], the Israelites were told that they had to become a nation of educators.”

Universal compulsory education existed as a communal policy in Israel eighteen centuries before the western world. However, education as a core Jewish value was never limited to the framework and institutions of formal education. It was and is found in every aspect of Jewish communal life. But more than our great institutions of formal and informal Jewish education, the role of families is the most effective educational tool we have. Families must be encouraged to be seen as partners in and agents of Jewish education in their own right.

Core Educational Values:
• A Jewish education is the right of every Jewish child
• Jewish education should be at the heart of all of our communal institutions
• The family should be empowered and supported as partners and direct agents in Jewish education.

  1. The Educator as Hero
    “Teachers open our eyes to the world. They give us curiosity and confidence. They teach us to ask questions. They connect us to our past and future. They’re the guardians of our social heritage. We have lots of heroes today, and they are often celebrities – athletes, supermodels, media personalities. They come, they have their fifteen minutes of fame, and they go. But the influence of good teachers stays with us. They are the people who really shape our life.”

As central as Jewish education was to the thought and work of Rabbi Sacks, his appreciation of the noble profession of education was clearly communicated. He dedicated his energies over many years to elevating the prestige of educators and the field of education in the community, and made great efforts to support educators in various ways (including investing in the creation of educational content based on his thought for educators to use as a resource in their work). Rabbi Sacks was also a role model par excellence in his private and public life, reminding us of the importance of exposing children to the influence of strong Jewish role models. These are our educators.

Core Educational Values:
• Jewish educational communities must value in real and practical ways the educator as the lynchpin in everything they do
• Educators make an impact not just through delivery of content and programming, but by being role models. This impact should be carefully considered in educational strategic planning.

From manifesto to blueprint to construction to realization…it is all in our hands.

Dr. Rose’s full article is available at:

Be safe. Be well.

Shabbat shalom. Chag Chanukah samayach.

GAJE, Dec. 10, 2020

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