Inside Jewish Day Schools (CHAT)

In last week’s GAJE report, we introduced readers to the recently published work Inside Jewish Day Schools by internationally recognized scholars of Jewish life and Jewish education Alex Pomson and Jack Wertheimer. The authors examined the day-to-day operations of nine Jewish day schools in North America, one of which is the Anne and Max Tanenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT).

TanenbaumCHAT is a coeducational community Jewish high school that offers “an extensive educational experience, inside the classroom and beyond.” Its current enrollment is an eye-opening figure of some1,300 students.

The authors are clearly impressed with the school. They write that “the story of how the school has been able to thrive despite constraints (some shared by other schools and some peculiar to Toronto) can be instructive even, and perhaps especially, to those who may consider their own circumstances less fortunate.”

The 25-page report on CHAT is entitled It’s All in a Name. The very name of the school, the authors suggest, points to the fact that the school operationally integrates ‘Community’, ‘Hebrew’ and ‘Academy ’in a manner that sets the school apart from most other Jewish high schools.

Pomson and Wertheimer examine the issues positive and negative that arise for administrators in effectively running the school while remaining true to its mission. They do not ignore uncomfortable discussions. But they do make broad observations about the administrators’ rigorous devotion to the school’s history, context and loyalty to a framework of overarching values.

For example, in relation to the school’s acceptance of a wide demographic cross section of students, the authors write: “Being as inclusive as possible is not a hollow promise. Fewer than twenty students drop out each year, a number that translates into a retention rate of 97 percent, higher than at most of Toronto’s Jewish elementary schools. Maintaining such high rates of retention is possible because of the considerable ideological alignment of parents with the school’s Jewish ethos and because of the extensive infrastructure that exists to support students behaviourally, academically and emotionally.”

The chapter on CHAT is informative and positive, without being fatuously flattering. Current and former parents, students and graduates will find the study interesting and worthwhile.

As we wrote last week the authors hold the view that “day schools offer an unparalleled Jewish education to young people: no other educational vehicles can match day schools as providers of skills and content learning in Jewish studies. Day schools therefore serve a critical role in preparing the next generation of Jewish leaders and active participants.”

Pomson and Wertheimer chronicle how Tannenbaum CHAT helps to fulfill that critical role.


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Shabbat shalom.

Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE)

December 23, 2022

Posted in Uncategorized
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