Before the end of last year, Paul Bernstein, CEO, Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, published an article that was of a piece with many written in the latter part of the year calling attention to the excellence of Jewish day schools.
Educational experts and knowledgeable observers throughout North America, including in the GTA, marvelled at how well most day schools forged a relatively clear path through the dislocation, misery and fog of Covid-19.
Bernstein noted the phenomenon of the increase in enrollment in many day schools during the pandemic. He then asked the important questions: “is the enrollment growth we observed a COVID blip, or can/should we see this moment as a launch point for sustained growth in Jewish day schools? And how do we support those schools and families who are struggling?”
“COVID has amplified the strengths of Jewish day schools – academically and communally – and has spotlighted the power of a (Jewish) values-driven education, and the focus on social and emotional health. Day school faculty and staff continually go “above and beyond” to maintain the best possible experience for students and families,” Bernstein wrote.
Bernstein’s real purpose was clear in the following words. “It is incumbent on all of us who care about day schools,” he writes, “to do all we can to ensure that [the increase in day school enrollment] is in fact not a blip, but rather a moment to catapult our schools forward.”
He answers his own question with a four-part solution:
• We need to double down on student retention.
• We need to keep telling the amazing story of a Jewish day school education.
• We must keep focus on the tremendous financial costs involved in day schools. Affordability remains a critical challenge.
• We need to convey the inherent value of a Jewish day school education for our collective Jewish future.
Bernstein concludes by urging us to recognize and to acknowledge “just how “frontline” our day schools and teachers are for our current lives – and for the sustainability of our community for years to come.”
We agree with and reinforce Bernstein’s insights.
Bernstein’s article is available at:
Be safe. Be well. Shabbat shalom.
GAJE, January 8, 2021