Sunday, December 10, 2006

Why are we investing?

In recent years there has been an explosion in the number of trans-denominational/non-denominational community schools designed to service the spectrum of the Jewish community without making any of their students feel like they were (borrowing from a phrase popularized by a dynamic Rabbi from the NY area) "not yet Orthodox." These schools have been embraced by many, but not all, Central Agencies and visionary groups, as opening the doors to a population that would not otherwise attend day schools.

Interestingly, in some communities, the local Federation was against the institution of these schools - fearing that they would drain money and students from existing schools without generating a substantive increase in enrollment.

One school, questioning why their enrollment was falling far short of their projected numbers, came to the conclusion that they were too religious, and that they could only attract students by becoming less religious. (Note: their Jewish studies component consisted of one period a day of Jewish studies plus prayer.) It's hard to know if lessening the Jewish studies will or will not increase the enrollment in the school, but even the enrollment doubles or triples in the next two years, is it worth the investment of untold millions of dollars of Jewish communal funds to pay for what amounts to Jewish private schools with minimal Jewish content?

1 comment:

  1. First let me say that Judaism means a lot of different things to different people. You may not realize it but these schools provide a solution for the non-Orthodox community who may have lost their religious faith but want to keep their children Jewish. We can send our kids to school with other Jewish kids, knowing that they will pick up basic Jewish literacy without worrying that they will taught things that make us feel uncomfortable. Should these schools be funded? Yes. They should be funded the same way other Jewish communal organizations are funded, whether or not they have a religious-bent since they provide a service to the community. Aren't schools services or am I that out of touch?