Our children return to school next week. In some cases, they will be attending school for the first time. Whether as “veterans” or as first-timers, along with their lunches, most will bring with them pockets full of excitement, worries, wonders and nerves. Parents and grandparents might feel the same way.
The start of the school year is an appropriate occasion to thank our students, their teachers, and the staff of all the schools for being involved in the collective enterprise we call Jewish Day School education. Together, they demonstrably reaffirm their commitment to a Jewish future even as they extend a gesture of gratitude and respect to generations past.
Daniel Held, the chief program officer of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, has often spoken about the importance of Jewish day school education. “It looks toward the future and says, ‘How can we have the strongest, most vibrant, most vital Jewish community?’ And decades, if not centuries, of research and experience shows that by educating our kids today, we strengthen the community of the future, we create both a knowledgeable and passionate community and we also create empowered leaders.”
Of course, a day school education is not the only way to instill in our children a commitment to the Jewish future. But study after study show it offers the best chance for doing so. Jewish Day School education provides the richest immersive experience in Jewish knowledge and folkways within a social environment that is supportive and caring. It thus can also become a powerful foreshadowing for our children of mutually sustaining community life in the years to come, instilling in them expansive, positive, personal feelings of belonging to the Jewish people.
To all of our children we say: Good luck next week. May it be the beginning of a wonderful year for you and your friends. And we also say, again: Thank you.
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Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)
September 2, 2022