by Leon Gilden
There can be no topic in Jewish life about which more articles have been written, organizations formed and meetings held than Jewish continuity. What do we know about ourselves from a historic, social economic, religious and cultural point of view? The answer is that the foremost element of continuity must be education.
Ah, but then we are Jews. Religiously diverse, culturally diverse, economically diverse, spread over all the continents and, above all, educationally fragmented.
The Forward on June 7 published a column titled “The Other Threat,” by editor Jane Eisner, which was a well-researched article that dealt with the growth of the haredi population and raised the question of whether the “unchecked growth of Jewish fundamentalism” is an existential threat to Jewish life in America. It ends with a conclusory statement that reads, “The result is a larger than ever proportion of Jews who, by all accounts, don’t much care about being Jewish.”
At the same time, in the most recent edition of the B’nai B’rith magazine, there is an article about the increase in Hebrew language charter schools. Religious instruction is off limits, open enrollment resulting in black and Hispanic children attending is mandatory, and it is all paid for by the state in which the schools are located. Teachers use Hebrew texts to teach the children, but the Bible cannot be used. A former Florida congressman who is the founder of the schools in Florida “makes no secret of the fact that his main goal ... is to give more kids a Jewish education.” He then asks, “How do you expect to address continuity in America if 92 percent of Jews don’t have Jewish education?” This is a truly pertinent question to which he replies, “The Hebrew charter school has the potential to change that.” Draw your own conclusion...more.
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