Why We Need Hebrew School

Are you giving your kids a Jewish education?

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Comments (54)

(54) June, June 30, 2011 2:47 PM

I can tell you what's wrong at our school

What's wrong at our school is that it's much too lax. My son transferred there from a Jewish day school, and he hasn't learned a thing and is bored to death. They refuse to pull him out to give him more Hebrew and the activities are very immature. They can't see that he's too grown up to be in a babyish class. He won't go back and there goes our Jewish education.

(53) Elianah, July 5, 2010 8:08 PM

Hebrew School

We are Conservative Jews. My 9th grade daughter does not want to return to Hebrew School next year because last year they sat around and played with their Ipods and did little or no class work. Some of the conversation was 'most of you will not marry a Jew when you grow up'. She feels it is pointless to attend. Sunday was spent with some kids fighting over the couch to sit on and deciding who was cool and who was not. I am sorry to say, I kind of agree with her on not finishing her last year.

(52) Anonymous, June 20, 2010 12:30 PM

Not cool

We need people in the spotlight to talk about it and make it seem cool. No one gets caught by paparazzi taking their kid to Jewish school. No one talks about anything like it unless it's the kabbala school certain well-known people like to build and talk about. Jewish school needs celebrity endorsements. it needs to catch on like red strings and yoga.

(51) Sheila Silver Halet, June 18, 2010 4:43 PM

B'nei Mitzvahs To Go

For 45 years I taught Hebrew School in the afternoon/evening. I tried to make all my students feel enjoyment in the learning of our wonderful heritage. Being educated as a Jewish female, I always felt left out ritually but that was in the 50's and 60's. One day I was asked to officiate a Bar Mitzvah of a student who I had educated privately and thus began my chance over a sixteen year period to experience leading a congregation. Educating and Conducting B'nei Mitzvahs in and around my Mass. area for unaffiliated Jewish and Mixed families, taught me one very special lesson...that a rite of passage is truly special and when it comes from the heart, which in all these cases so appeared, it truly was their Moment In Time, And yes, they had to know the Shma Yisroel. Todah Rabbah

(50) calie, June 18, 2010 3:45 PM

18 Words

To the writer of 18 words--What a great idea! I have often wondered why even the very religious Jewish schools teach these words as other religions and the U.S. and Western world translates these words, only to tell these same students, years later, that they learned it all wrong and that the students don't really understand very much. Well, where were they supposed to have learned any of this to understand it? Is there any contact information that can be provided so that I may ask for a copy of this pamphlet? I would really like to read it and I think some people I know would appreciate it as well. Thank you.

(49) Anonymous, June 18, 2010 3:21 AM

my friend's experience (Part II)

Shalom Rabbi, My best friend felt proud to be a Jew. So one Shabbos, before he entered the sanctuary to pray, he put on a kippah and a talis. Because my friend's schul was reform, the Rabbi confronted my friend and made him remove the tallis and kippah. That was reform back during the 1950's. Soon after my friend became a Buddhist monk. He decided to join a group that accepted him. He also decided that instead of praying to one god, he would pray to many gods because life is enriched by multiple points of view rather than the narrowness he saw in his synagogue. Yes, my friend made a decision using a child's brain. He was a child. Again, the Jewish community was not kind. I think I would add here that on the large part, I dislike the American Jewish community because they are ignorant of Jewish values as you sadly noted about the Tel Aviv schools. To keep things briefish, here is my idea. The American Jewish community does not know the etymology of words such as shalom, rachamim, chet (sin), and teshuva. The concepts behind these words have been lost. The Jewish story is not taught in public schools. Instead, we are taught a secular culture in which many of the concepts are Christian based. Example: the words for sin and repentance conjure up hell and damnation. On the other hand, even the Christian understanding of the word "love", agape, a word which translates "ohev" is not taught. Jewish culture has been wiped out to a large degree. Instead, we Jews joke about money, and screwing over other people concepts foreign to Judaism. My idea: I am nearing completion of writing a pamphlet entitled "18 words". I have found that when I tell an American Jew what rachamim (compassion) means, people immediately feel the difference between Jewish and Western thought. I hope I can distribute the pamphlet for free at local synagogues. My idea is a small idea. I am sure there will are other deeper ideas. The combination of all the ideas could make a different environment.

(48) Anonymous, June 18, 2010 2:56 AM

my experience; a friend's experience; and an idea

Shalom Rabbi, 1) My experience: I began Hebrew School at Rodfei Shalom a Conservative schul on Chicago's South Side. There I was a top student. I loved Israel. I wanted to know Hebrew. I loved Judasim. When I was eleven my family moved to Highland Park (llinois). When I enrolled in the Hebrew School -- the name of which I will omit -- I was given a test to find out which class I should be in. Even though I had been the student of the year in Chicago, I tested a year behind children my age. My suburban peers had learned Hebrew verb conjugation something to which I had not been exposed in my Chicago schul. I was placed with children my age despite lacking the background for the class. Predictably, the Hebrew teacher quickly realized I was behind all the other students. The teacher considered me an idiot and ignored me. When I complained about my being lost and bored, I was told to sit in the back of the classroom which is where I sat for the remainder of the school year. Worse yet, the suburban children were mean to me. My family had middle-class Jewish values. In other words, I wore hand me down clothes. I stood out as being from a different social class. I also stood out because I was beaten often at home. I was weak and depressed. The students would pick on me and humiliate me publicly. The teacher and administrators didn't do anything to intervene and they had their own preferred family's. Needless to say, I hated Judaism for a long time. I told myself that if ever I became religious it would be for a religion that believed in creativity and dignity. Creativity and dignity are what I discovered in Judaism decades later and thus I have returned. That is my story.

(47) Chana Yosefa, June 17, 2010 2:57 AM

Every Jewish Child Should Have a Jewish Education

In Seattle in the 1990's, the Hebrew Academy worked with families of all means (or lack of). In New Rochelle, NY, Congregation Anshe Sholom offers free religious school (after school and Sundays) to all comers. What is needed is the will. Then there's a way.

(46) TMay, June 17, 2010 2:50 AM

If Michael Medved & David Horowitz changed, others can

Look on the internet for Chabad closest to you and ask them about education. If they are in Mumbai India and at the base of Mt Everest, my bet is there is one where you live, and if there isn't, they would like to know so that they can set one up. Also since the society is permeated with Leftist views from pre -K all the way through elementary and high school and universities,news, TV, and since Leftists have abandoned Jews for their new love the Muslims and the Islamists, and are now disseminating classic anti-Semitism because Leftists are spreading the blood libel, that the Israeli/US doctors flew to Haifa to harvest and traffick in organs taken from live Haitian children (Google it and thanks (sarc) to CNN's Amanpour, (who married James Rubin), who aired it and then after mentioning "Israel", internet rules required ending the tape of the interview with the Haitian PM but it spread throughout the Arab and Muslim world via Al Jazeera,and through the Leftist world through Indymedia and Obama dot com and Huffington Post. I saw it before someone complained and before the internet demanded that it be removed. See refs. to it.Since the internet is moving into foreign. alphabets, we won't be able to track it. So when Jews wake up and realize that after unbelievable loyalty to the dem party all these years, that they have been unilaterally divorced from the dems whose leadership is now the Far Left, my guess is that they will feel lost and will be wandering around without a value system. Dennis Prager created Prager University online which is free and which gives 5 minute lectures to reintroduce adults and children to the tried and true Judeo Christian God based American values which led to common sense, rather than values of the Left which are suicidal. His lectures are also in Spanish.The Left is targeting Spanish immigrants to teach them anti-Semitism, so point people in Prager's direction. Attacks against Israel are attacks against the US Try it.

(45) helena, June 16, 2010 7:37 PM

to portia

I imagine that those schools were neither conservative nor reform. The other school won't take in most children they don't deem fit, whether they can afford it or not. It's sad at best, despicable at worst. They make so many assumptions and they don't even allow a family the choice to make a decision to give it a chance. How many children are kept away from receiving their true heritage? I shudder to think of it. How many people are turned off of Judaism because of interactions like this? I can't bear to think of it.

(44) Anonymous, June 16, 2010 5:22 PM

do your Torah homework!

my friend from Israel attended a Yeshiva for a few years. His problems with it were the violence that comes with an all-boys school, and that he got a grade for religion. Having it as a class in school made it feel like a chore rather than something spiritual. This gave him the feeling of it being FORCED upon him. I think that integrating Judaism (and even spirituality in general for those who aren't Jewish) into a child's education is extremely important-- it gives the child a clearer path. But at the same time, you want to make it feel more personal and important than just a class in school. We have yet to find that balance, and unfortunately I don't have any suggestions.

(43) Dan, June 16, 2010 4:24 PM

Free or low-cost day schools are not the answer for everyone

Free or low-cost day shool education would be a boon for the 10-12% of American Jews who are already committed to educating their children Jewishly. However, for the not-yet committed, Jewish education is just another item on the marketplace, and there is a perception that you get what you pay for. Given a choice between a low-cost Jewish school that is perceived as being weak academically, vs. a more expensive private, secular school that is perceived as a pathway to getting into a good college, parents with means to pay will probably choose the latter, just as they would choose a prestigious private university over a state college. There has to a compelling reason to select a Jewish school. Many of my contemporaries who attended Jewish schools did so only because the public shcools in their neighborhoods were horribly violent and dangerous, and there was no option for secular, private school. Of course, these people are today observant and committed Jews, even though their parents were not. So sometimes, Jewish education produces the desired result, even if the motivation in the beginning was completely different.

(42) Anonymous, June 16, 2010 3:16 PM


I am the non-Jewish parent of a Jewish child who attended a Hebrew School from K to 6th grade. (No school for 7-12 in my city.) My child, received a fine religious and secular education and has a solid Jewish identity. I see the problems as follows: 1. Cost is a factor and more scholarships would help. It is interesting to note however, that there seems to be less willingness to sacrifice for day school than I see in parents at my daughter's comparably priced Catholic prep school, where parents struggle to send their kids without scholarships. My sense is that the Jewish school emphasizes the religious aspects of the program, and not the academic quality of the program. The Catholic school has a religious curriculum, but the PR emphasis is on academics, which parents are willing to pay for. 2. Religious differences. I have several friends who took their kids out of Hebrew Day School because it was "too religious", "not religious enough", disagreements on doctrine with the Rabbi teaching religion... This community can only support one school, and the community needs to support the school, not walk away over levels of observance. 3. Lack of meaningful parent involvement. There were a handful of parents who were willing to do what needed to be done, but the majority of parents seemed to feel they were paying the money and that was sufficient. In a community that includes so many gifted artists, professionals, and people with unique talents, so much more could have been done. Things like science fair, music education, computers, media and communications were left to the teaching staff, but could have been amazing if talented parents had helped. The community needs to OWN the school and sometimes that means time in addition to tuition. 4. Dwindling enrollment means less tuition and endangers survival. Nevertheless, the idea of reaching out to families not affiliated with a synagogue or the non-religious seeking quality academics was met with hostility.

(41) Anonymous, June 16, 2010 2:39 PM


You are right. Conservative and reform schools have their agenda, and that agenda is not teaching children the whole truth. it is all very distorted. They mean well, they just don't know enough, They usually take good care of the children and teach them what they can, in both secular and Jewish education, but it has their whole slant of who wrote the Torah and we can change the Torah as it suits us, and that is just so wrong. It would be better to just teach Torah as it is and not have a school be reform or conservative or anything. there should be schools that just teach pure Torah to the minds and souls of the children, nothing else. The orthodox schools teach it straight, but that's not a good fit for most people. it's sad that there isn't anything else available. An open, truthful school teaching real Torah without either distorting it as something less than it is or without being really strict and bashing people over the head with it in a way they don't want, would be really great--like an Orthodox school in terms of truth and knowledge and all the facts and all the good explanations and stories for the children and real Judaism, like what's offered on this website, and not only some Hebrew school, after school program teaching a little history and enough Hebrew so the children can read from the Torah at the Bar Mitzva which most children--and the adults they become--mostly resent because of the extra hours of school or because their Jewish school doesn't speak to them as whole people, as Jews, and because the schools don't let them know and feel that Judaism is so special and that they are so special to be Jewish and what being Jewish should really mean to them every day and how to really be Jews every day. So a school that offers what this website offer would be great. I'm not sure if anyone cares enough to do something about it, even though people like talking about it. i wonder if someone could organize something and ask for volunteers.

(40) ana, June 16, 2010 2:25 PM

Low Cost Three Years of Pre-School is Good

It's up to the schools, of course. Is there someone who cares enough about this to speak with the schools to do this so the schools could allocate funds and redistribute their money around so nursery, pre-kindergarten, and kindergarten could be something like $1,800 for the entire year, along with scholarship programs and other ways of raising funds or dedicating time for the truly cash-strapped? Is there any donor or giant fund that could be set up to help all Jewish schools do this? If it could happen that the schools can get the money for this program if they keep at least pre-school very inexpensive, it could work to bring more Jews to a Jewish education from young age on. Of course the schools would have to actually accept Jewish students to their schools which from reading these posts it does not seem like they are doing. It's like they decide someone will never be good enough based on where they think they are now. Well how else are they supposed to learn? Joshua the prophet and leader of Israel right after Moses, the one who brought the Jews to Israel, married Rahav, the most well-known prostitute because she was a good person who saw the light and wanted to be good, and he accepted her but these schools decide that three year old children are not good enough. That is not the way of a Jew. This is not better than the elite private pre-schools that only take what they think is the right kind of kid from the right kind of family, of course the kid has to be enrolled in utero or in the days following birth to even get accepted. Why are Jewish schools like this? Isn't Jewish law that Jewish education is for everyone and that we are all responsible to teach all Jewish children when their parents cannot?

(39) Elana, June 16, 2010 2:00 AM

Increase in divorce rates=Jewish dropouts

With the huge increase in divorce rates and most of the burden falling on the "primary" care taker, there is not enough money left over for Jewish education. I, as a mother, am responsible first and foremost for my children's physical needs...food, clothes, shelter. After that, there is nothing left for tuition; even with huge tuition breaks. Public school is free. I need to work in order to support just their basic needs. Who has extra money left over for tuition?

(38) portia, June 16, 2010 12:37 AM

I tried and failed

My area has three schools that provide Jewish education. None of them will accept my children. Now what? I'll tell you now what. Back to their public school.

(37) Anonymous, June 15, 2010 10:04 PM

Cost is a major issue for many families.

My husband received his religious education in an afternoon school problem. He HATED it because he was forced to attend. When all of the neighborhood kids were out playing, he had to go to Hebrew school. He found the content meaningless. Sadly, Judaism was not actively practiced in his home either so there was a disconnect between what he learned in school and what was practiced at home. Because of his horrible Jewish education, he is very turned off of Judaism to this day and HATES going to services. Because of his horrible experiences in an after school program, our kids attended a Day School so that religion would be incorporated into their regular school curriculum. Therefore, they did not have the problem like my husband. Fortunately, in our community the cost of Day School was affordable but the quality was very mediocre to poor since the school which was a K-8 school only had around 20 kids. We did the best to provide a Jewish education for our kids for the community we live in. Now that my kids are grown, I think to their kids. In the cities they live, they would never be able to afford Day School which I find to be quite sad. Day School education seems to be only for the wealthy and I resent that horribly. Almost all Catholic and Lutheran kids have the opportunity to go their respective religious schools, why can't Jewish kids have this opportunity? Something MUST be done to enable Jewish education to be affordable. Day schools must be willing to work with families who do not have the means to pay such high tuition. I would like to think my grandkids would have that opportunity, but unless something changes, they won't. This is a HUGE problem for many, many families and it needs to be addressed. Assimilation is due to lack of Jewish education. Let's do something to make Jewish education more affordable.

(36) Anonymous, June 15, 2010 9:56 PM


My kids went to Hebrew school up to grade 7. The oldest went to the "conservative/reform" school, the 2 others spent a couple of years in the ultra orthodox school as well. At the conservative school they learn to take off their kippah at recess, to question whether god or man wrote the torah, that it's ok to eat chametz when travelling to Israel on pesach for a grade 9 culminating activity...

(35) nibble, June 15, 2010 9:54 PM


i once asked who was the first jew, the two answers i got was first the founder of christianity and then moshe

(34) Anonymous, June 15, 2010 9:22 PM

Toronto Jewish Board of Education doing something right

I feel that parents should be enticed with inexpensive nursery and JK. Once your kids make friends they will want to stay in the system. However, I disagree with making it "free". No charge = no value and parents/students will not respect the the free tuition. Jewish education is extremely expensive but the alternative is even more costly. Our youngest child graduates from Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto this week and university tuition next year will seem like a bargain. However, we have gone through extremely hard financial times while putting our kids through the Jewish Day school system. We could have stopped with elementary school at Grade 8 (Bar/Bat Mitzvah time) but we decided to give them a mixed non-denominational Jewish High School Educational experience (Reconstructionist to Orthodox) which we did not have when we grew up. Fortunately we were able to do so because of some very creative and sympathetic tuition offices. Most parents would not be open to the financial scrutiny that we allowed ourselves, but we felt so strongly about it that we thought it was worth it. Our children are fluent in Hebrew, learn Talmud and have a strong commitment to Israel. They have the tools to study there if they choose and have a strong identity. We’d like to think that we also had some input there also. It is only when our children attend university and interact with others (Jew and non-Jew) did they realize the gift that they had received.

(33) ruth, June 15, 2010 9:02 PM

Rabbi, which Jewish schools do you mean?

Where I live, there are only these options: secular or non-Jewish religious private school; public school; conservative day school through the 8th grade; orthodox school through the 12th grade. Am I missing something? Where are all our children supposed to go to get these Jewish educations? If you tell me, I will try. Please.

(32) Loraine Stayer, June 15, 2010 6:59 PM

Until 4th grade, I was enrolled in Bais Yaakov. Then we moved from Baltimore to Brooklyn. The local Bais Yaakov refused me entry because my parents could not pay for the tuition. In Baltimore, I had been on scholarship. I was transfered to public school, and to an after school Hebrew School. It was as though I'd been going to college and was now put in kindergarten. I complained to the school, and they put me ahead a year, a great relief. But my comment is this: If a family wants to give their children religious education/Hebrew education (However you classify it), then cost should not be the first consideration. The public school for me was a bad fit, and so was the after school Hebrew "education." By the time I started (also an after school) Hebrew High school, I was disgusted with the whole situation, not to mention, by then, unable to keep up with the work because my Hebrew educational background did not match my peers. I dropped out. Hope this feedback helps.

(31) TMay, June 15, 2010 6:46 PM


I think institutions reflect their leadership. I agree with Dennis Prager that the baby boom generation lacks wisdom. The baby boom generation picked their rabbis. I can only speak for my community but there is a crisis of leadership.I suspect that the rabbis don't believe in Judaism but it's a living. It "feels good" (There is interesting synergy. I think the rabbis who do believe feel depressed within their community.) I think there are plenty of rabbis who don't believe that Sinai actually took place and that there is a God and that he sought to make a home among humans.and that anything he said actually has to be taken seriously. I think children can pick up on whether an adult believes. Leftism has been rewritten in Hebrew letters which I realize was not the problem when we were growing up but it is a problem now, so parents are paying for their children to attend a couple of hours a week and the children are being taught Leftism.. The synagogues are raising good little Leftists. One has to start with the rabbinical schools. On the outside it looks like everything is the same and that everything is continuing but it isn't. And Leftism does not teach people about good and evil and about their inclinations, it teaches people about recycling and global warming. The problem is not limited to Reform. When I grew up, they got some things right, like teaching about the holidays and songs and building a sense of community on top of teaching Hebrew and history. It would have been nicer if it had been mentally challenging. . .

(30) sierra, June 15, 2010 6:12 PM

Rabbi Salomon and readers I have a question for you

I began learning about my own religion Judaism two years ago. I see this and I would like to send my children to Jewish school. What Jewish school? They know very little. it will be too difficult. We are reform. there are no reform schools. Conservative schools are only for the very young children. I have already teenagers and also little ones. What should I do? Even the little ones don't know enough to go to very orthodox schools. So public schools for them all. Thank you.

(29) hilde, June 15, 2010 6:05 PM

Why would anyone know to do this?

People do what they know. Most Jews know that they went to public school, their parents went to public school, their friends went to public school, and their children's friends go to public school. They also know that they're all doing fine. Why would anyone change to do anything different if they all know they're doing the normal thing? Why would it even occur to anyone? For the observant ones who claim to care about their unlearned brethren, I dare you: Go ahead and do something about it. Go ahead and give people a reason to care. Tell them why they should care. And then provide them with the appropriate schools for them. Will they go to your schools just like that? I doubt it. Why should they?

(28) Anonymous, June 15, 2010 5:43 PM

Part 1: I live in Haifa, and I was very surprised to hear Rabbi Salomon’s “Hear O Israel…” story, so I decided to do my own test. I asked my two daughters, aged 17 and 14, the same question. Neither could complete the last two words. At first, I found this amazing. Both are completely fluent in Hebrew, and both study Tanakh in their secular schools. My older daughter finished her Tanakh matriculation exam this week. In retrospect, I shouldn’t be surprised since they study Jewish holy texts as literature, heritage, and culture, but they do not study religion per se or ceremony. Part 2: When I first moved to Israel about 35 years ago, I studied Judaism for about six months in the framework of my absorption program, but not since while in Israel. Several years ago, I returned to the States and lived in Houston, TX for three years. I found an outreach program where I went to Torah classes, and even studied some Talmud one-on-one with a rabbi for a while. (My Hebrew was good enough, but my Aramaic was a bit lacking.) It was very strange that I felt comfortable studying Judaism in the States, but I am very uncomfortable trying it here in Israel. I think that the problem in Israel is one of politics and life-style expectations. Unfortunately, religion here is frequently divisive. Conclusion: Jewish (as distinct from Hebrew) educational issues are very different in the Diaspora than those in Israel. The subjects of language, texts, values, and ceremonies are distinct and separate. Outside of Israel, you may be able to roll things up and deal with them together, but here in Israel you will need a different approach. A Hebrew education is not the same as a Jewish education, and as long as the secular Israeli public feels threatened by the rabbinic institutions (and they have good reasons to feel threatened) it will be hard bridge the gap. The first step here must be rapprochement, consideration, and mutual respect.

(27) lisa, June 15, 2010 5:40 PM

home school-it's cheap and fantastic

I sent this in and no one posted it. Please post it.Thanks. We have a home school in our neighborhood that involves a bunch of families, rather than one family, and we all got together and hired three teachers for almost 20 kids, rather than us teaching, though individual parents do step in and teach certain specific courses in their own field or that they love and step in for trips to the zoo and gardens and plays and tefilin making and whatnot and we put together our own Jewish school, without a building, without anything other than dedication and commitment. We follow home school guidelines. We've been doing this for 6 years now and it is awesome! The kids learn required subjects and also all jewish subjects by great teachers. they learn at their own speed. They learn by reading, cooking, planting, traveling, visiting the elderly, etc. They study Jewish halacha and incorporate in into their lives-for example, they all tithe their allowances and earnings even though they know as children it's not a must, but they want to do it and they each give to different causes-toys for poor or sick children, flowers for Mommy, etc. They learn ethics of the Fathers and focus on the behavior they've learned. Some compose Jewish songs for their extra-curricular music class, some write Jewish themed stories, some bake challah and bring them to their grandparents each friday afternoon for Shabbat. it is so remarkable. If anyone is against Jewish school because of cost, try this. If anyone is against homeschool because of less social interaction, do it this way, with lots of families. You just hire a few teachers all together and it flows. yes, you need to think about a curriculum and take every child's strengths into account and plan, but so what? They are your children. Better to put in effort now with education when they are young than put in time being frustrated later with everything that can happen in their lives and what kind of people they can be if you don't. Thanks.

(26) m feld, June 15, 2010 5:20 PM

Aish-type schools for children is brilliant!

That's such a good idea! When young men and women come in contact with people who love them and want to give them Torah, they almost always stay with it. Since it works in Israel with young adults who have been given very secular upbringings and very little Torah, of course it would work for children (and the families of these children because they'd of course have to be involved in some level, right?). Why haven't more people thought about it? This reminds me of what Lubavitch Jews do, too, with involving everyone and bringing them back. Aish Hatorah pre-school, elementary school, high school, or Aish HaTorah-like pre-school, elementary school, high school would be amazing! And in a generation or two of this, there would probably be a lot less of the problem of Jews not educating their own. As long as it's affordable and obviously beneficial, it would be so great if there were more. Could you please tell us more about how it works?

(25) Hillel, June 15, 2010 2:39 PM

how can you pose a question without making a point?

Yaakov: As someone educated in excellent Jewish primary and high schools, whose parents went to Jewish schools and who is now sending my own ons to a Jewish school, I know the value and crucial importance of formal Jewish education. I can start explaining the many reasons for why every penny I spend on their Jewish education is not a sacrifice at all, but, rather, an investment -- but I won't. That should have been the point of YOUR video message: "Jewish education is vital because ... " Aish.com is an excellent vehicle for spreading the message of the wonders of Judaism. Your video, therefore, could have explained to readers WHY a Jewish education is important, WHY training kids in our traditions is important, WHY a Jewish home life is not enough of an education, WHY knowing Jewish texts and prayers (especially the Shema) is important, etc. See what I mean? I'd respectfully ask you to produce another video message that conveys all this to people who need to know.

(24) Rachel, June 15, 2010 2:37 PM

It's the cost, Rabbi

We sent our first child to day school from pre-K thru 8th. We couldn't afford to send our son and the school would not give us a break on tuition. We sent our son for grades 6 and 7, and then one of us became disabled. Again, no money available from school. So both our kids are now in public school. And it wasn't a choice between designer clothes and fancy vacations vs. day school; it was a choice between paying medical bills, the mortgage, groceries vs. day school.

(23) Nechama, June 15, 2010 2:30 PM

It's not your parents Hebrew School

I am a Jewish Educator. I spend A LOT of my time making sure that my student's classes are NOT the same as their parent's classes that they hated all those years ago. It is very challenging to keep the children happy, engaged, learning and eager to come back. We need more people helping our educators to teach in new and exciting ways so our students can't wait to come back!

(22) Anonymous, June 15, 2010 2:04 PM

Make Jewish Education AFFORDABLE, not EXPENSIVE

I know my parents wanted to send my brother and I to Jewish schools but they could not do so due to the outrageous tutions costs (much more than my university fees). Luckily even though I attended public schools my entire life somehow hashem managed to bring me closer to the path of torah and today I'm a religious jew happily married with 2 childeren in Israel. Make Jewish education AFFORDABLE and you'll have lots more children attend jewish schools and end up with a much needed Jewish education.

(21) rerun, June 15, 2010 1:47 PM

I've been saying for years, even on this site: Outreach pre-school through high school

I already sent in this comment yesterday from my friend's computer/e-mail. Perhaps it didn't go through. I will repeat the message or contact Rabbi Salomon directly if it still does not post as I have tried again and again, same message, and I feel someone doesn't like it or something was wrong with the sending of it. Whatever. Please post the the one line summary and the next part of this that's in the quotes only, not my message to you. Thank you. "Perhaps people would be more willing and able to send their children to Jewish schools if Jewish schools were styled in the way Jewish outreach schools are styled--geared to teach in a smart and loving way and answer all the questions and give Jewish people what they need in order to live fulfilling lives as Jews. Essentially, what Aish HaTorah does, and what schools like it in Israel do, but do it everywhere, for the pre-school through high school set, so the children and their families would learn about and love and hold stead-fast to their faith. I've been talking about this for years and have implemented it already in our community and we have three schools now and it works beautifully. It's been awe-inspiring to see all the wonderful families and children who have blossomed with these programs. We're getting these schools into more communities and we encourage people to do the same. They are all under the same direction and easy to set up because we've learned our way already, and of course, there's always room for new involvement from all Jews in our community to take part in whatever way they can, whether it's teaching, helping procure new buildings, recruiting, legal advice, or helping to implement creative new classes. It's so exciting and a pleasure to be a part of. To anyone who wants to do something similar: You will not be disappointed. You will bring forth so much nachas and joy, and in return you will have so much joy of your own from being part of such a beautiful endeavor." Thank you.

(20) Aish Sunday School, June 15, 2010 11:27 AM

If there's a will there is a way...

I am so happy that you raised this question, as a Sunday School director this is something I think about every day. In the years I taught in other Hebrew Schools I saw parents sending their children mostly out of obligation or a desire for their child to have a Bar/Bat Mitzvah. But any sense of interest or commitment was lacking. In recruiting I have spoken to parents more about their own bad experiences than about their children. The key is that we need to give the parents a better Sunday School experience, not just their kids. You can't blame a parent for wanting to keep their child from having a negative experience that they are still recovering from. But with the right effort and intentions you can get almost anyone to come around...

(19) Anonymous, June 15, 2010 1:37 AM

Do it like Sydney Australia!

This is a critical issue for all Jews Chinuch education! Sydney leads Melbourne and Perth on this one! And Australia leads the US in this also. Sydney Australia has a communal appeal and a certain percentage of that appeal goes to Jewish schools make it more affordable for parents. About 55% of Jewish kids in Melbourne go to Jewish schools and 45% in Sydney go also. Sydney is more expensive place to live than Melbourne but chinuch is more affordable because of the appeal subsidizes the cost for all parents. The more chinuch/education the more chance the next generation will be Jewish!

(18) rosa, June 14, 2010 9:55 PM


Maybe you can make an online virtual school for all jewish children and teenagers. Maybe that would be easier, cheaper, more inclusive, and more convenient than any other. Plus it's online, so the children would zone out without anyone noticing that they were raised to just not care.

(17) Anonymous, June 14, 2010 9:55 PM

why not send them?

because: it's not a priority it's not cheap it's not fun When jewish education ever becomes a priority to parents, as cheap as public school, and as fun as iPods and vacations, maybe. Until then, nope. It's like asking the average woman why she doesn't want to shell out her hard earned savings for appliances or asking the average man why he won't spend most of his earnings on lipstick and jewelry and high heels. No one will part with money for something they don't think they need. No one. People only spend on what they really want and on what they think is really important. Jewish education is not on the important list for most Jews. They may regret it later, but for now they'll spend their hard -earned dollars someplace else, thank you very much.

(16) sima, June 14, 2010 9:43 PM

A New Survey

Why don't you do your own survey and ask people: 1. if they are giving their children a Jewish education; if so, why. 2. if they are not giving their children a Jewish education; if not, why not. 3. What would it take for those giving their children a Jewish education to help provide this for other children. 4. What would it take those not giving their children a Jewish education to provide this for their children. All the best.

(15) devorie p, June 14, 2010 9:40 PM


Why would people who don't know the shema even come close to caring about not knowing the shema?

(14) J.R.S., June 14, 2010 9:34 PM

Learn From Example

I read a book written by Sara Yocheved Rigler called Holy Woman: The Road to Greatness of Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer, in which Rabbi Kramer (the husband of Rebbetzin Chaya Sara), a great and holy man, had just this dilemma. He chose to go door to door and ask people to send their children to Jewish school. Many of these people were not only irreligious, but ignorant of Judaism, and also sometimes hateful of Judaism. But he promised the parents that he and the school could provide what they wanted for their children: a free place to live and eat and learn. And more than that: he was such a holy man, that even those who thought they hated their own religion ended up sending their children to Jewish schools, because they saw what type of person Judaism and a true Torah Jewish life can bring about. Perhaps people who truly care about this issue can go ahead and speak to the parents, one by one, door to door, and be capable of providing the children with just what the parents might want most for them in this day and age, something that can persuade them that this type of education is really best--whether it's because of a low cost, because it provides great secular education, has healthy organic lunches, teaches manners, creates bright and friendly children who are go-getters and will only succeed and never be a drain on society or their parents, educates children who can succeed in the best colleges or workforce if they so choose, educates children to hold stead-fast to Jewish ethics and values and marry Jews and raise Jewish families of their own, educates children to have tremendous honor and respect of parents...whatever it is these days, that's how you can get them. May whoever undertakes this work in any way be blessed and helped by HKBH.

(13) delia, June 14, 2010 9:34 PM

What Jewish schools?

Last time I checked, there weren't exactly too many normal Jewish schools around. Other than the extremely religious schools for people already part of that sect of Judaism, what Jewish schools are there that provide quality jewish and non-Jewish education from nursery, pre-K, kindergarten, and 1st through 12th grade. Can anyone name one? Where should all the unafiliated, reform, conservative, observant but not part of any of the very religious factions send their children to school? Public school is available and free. Non-Jewish private schools are available and not cheap, but they do have scholarhips available and they do tend to have much better teachers and funding and curriculum than any Jewish private school. other than paying the teachers' salaries, which can't be too much, I wonder why those very religious Jewish schools are so expensive, when all they do is learn out of books. there's almost nothing else available for anyone. I know I wouldn't want to send children to a school that provides such a limited education-and not for their future jobs or earnings, but for the children as a whole. I'd want them to be exposed to music and art and dance-I don't care if it's jewish or not-and learn who they are. i'd want them in a school where they do community service from pre-school on and look out for one another and do kindness projects all the time and have all sorts of opportunities to do advanced math or science or literature or whatever they like so they can grow as human beings. Jewish schools sadly do not usually seem to provide for this.

(12) alex, June 14, 2010 9:34 PM

I send my children to Jewish private school

I know why more people don't do it. It's expensive. my husband and I always thought we'd like to have 4 children. With the cost of Jewish school education, we stopped now at 2 children, a 7 year old girl and a 9 year old girl, because it costs too much to raise Jewish children. People think we decided to stop having anymore because of our long hours at work and they think we're dedicated to our work and they're trying to convince us to take it easy and have more children instead of more work. As if. It's not the work that's stopping us, it's the cost. We just sit there and calculate the cost of Jewish education, and we don't want that expense. So we're not being stopped from giving our children a Jewish education, we're being stopped from giving the Jews our children to educate.

(11) David, June 14, 2010 5:46 PM

Unaffordable tuition costs

Dear Rabbi, The biggest problem is the tuition costs. It is becoming financially crippling to pay for one child, let alone mulitple children to receive an education. I have written to the OU about this as well. Unless a group of financially savy people get together to come up with some solutions, we will lose more of our people. Bad economic times lead to less money being available for scholarships. Please, Rabbi, use your contacts and get some financial people together to come up with some solutions on how to provide quality Jewish education without it costing a fortune.

(10) Anonymous, June 14, 2010 5:32 PM

Poising a question in comparison

I'm just wanting to ask some questions. Religious schools are known more for their academics achievements in the U.S. More one on one attention, since the classrooms are smaller. Even though it's a religious school, the aim is acquiring a good sound up-to-date academic studies to get you into the best colleges. In a Hebrew School, isn't there only like one class a day that is devoted to religious studies? Another class to learn the Hebrew language? Does people think the students are studying religion for 7 hrs a day? The 80% who could not finish the sentence is obviously not into Judaism at all. Does the Hebrew Schools in Tel Aviv have a different reputation then here in the U.S.? Because here in the U.S. to send you kids to a private religious school, you are giving them the best academic studies for high achievement in the business world. Mainly because they are geared to prepare you totally to get into the best Universities so high achievement will be reached by further education and degrees to obtain that success. Also in the U.S. to attend a private religious school, you are not labeled as a religious freak of any kind. Because of the quality of the education. The father could of been teased for going to a Hebrew School and didn't want to put his son through the same thing, if the reputation of Hebrew Schools are different over there. Otherwise I can not give what can be a help to improve a Hebrew School in Tel Aviv, since I don't live there and don't know what they are like. Here in the U.S. you are giving your kids a Jewish education yes, but also preparing your child to achieve success in the world. Even without a Hebrew Day School, your child learns Hebrew and Jewish education at the synagogue weekly. Hebrew Schools is more than religious studies.

(9) zipora, June 14, 2010 2:08 PM


communities should make jewish libraries, with all jewish books in every subject-fiction, biography and autobiography, halacha, history, children's books, cds, dvds, maybe game rooms or movie rooms, all dedicated to judaism. this can educate people. even already jewish educated halacha observant jews could use a place like this. why only read what's in the public libraries? a jewish library could be a good place for people of all ages to spend time, gain insight, become educated, and would probably be a good way for people to realize the importance of jewish education for their children in addition to whatever they learn there, though i think people could gain a tremendous amount of real knowledge only from jewish libraries dedicated to keeping jews knowledgeable about who they are. the libraries themselves, like most good libraries, could have classes and books readings for children an adults and all sorts of programs and assistance from excellent librarians who know just how to guide people to find what they're looking for, and even, for what they have yet to learn that they need.

(8) lisa, June 14, 2010 2:01 PM

home schools and charter schools

maybe people could put these together so they feel more in control of what their children are learning, both in Judaism and in other subjects. The price is also likely to be less than private schools are, which is probably a huge factor in people not giving their children Jewish education. parents themselves don't have to be the teachers for home school but they could hire one or two teachers for their children and children in the neighborhood whose families want this, too, and they could make mini home-schools all over the country and the world. they can even give their home schools a name and meet with other Jewish home schoolers and share ideas and materials and objects and get together every so often. as far as charter schools there is one which is a hebrew school though i don't have much information about that, but it can be done like that one or differently, but it can be done. also, jews in ny or nj actually created "public schools" with tax dollars for their communities because there are so many children there and they are given jewish education in these "public schools" for free, i think, again i don't know a lot about it, but it's something to think about

(7) devora, June 14, 2010 1:55 PM

free pre-school

We could probably make free or really cheap pre-schools. How much is needed other than a room , teachers' salaries and some paper and crayons and books? Most of what's imortant-great teachers who will inspire and talk and teach Torah and give-is already there. No computers or expensive resources necessary. Public libraries are free. Grants could be given. People can donate money, books, and resources. Maybe Jewish book stores can donate as tithes to these schools all sorts of books and materials. There are so many helpful teachers' tools online. Public schools don't really start until Kindergarten and first grade, so a place to send children for the day that isn't day care, but a quality place with good care-givers, mentors, teachers, would appeal to a lot of people as a safe bet and a great head start. When the parents see how wonderful a Jewish education is, how smart and caring and considerate their children are and how wonderful the staff is, and if the school is careful to educate the children in all areas of life and Judaism really well, and really involve the parents in everything they do, the parents might be more likely to keep educating the kids with a Jewish education even if they have to pay for it later-and maybe they'll think of ways to provide it to themselves and other at low cost through the 12th grade. But it must be blatantly obvious how good it is. Parent must be brought back, too. There's an excellent book called Precious Jewels by Zelda B Rosenthal, who taught in day schools and inspired children and their parents to come closer to their heritage. It's not about starting a school but about her recollections as a teacher and about the stories she used to tell the students to really inspire them to be so good. I recommend this book to anyone with children in their lives and anyone who wants to use stories and creativity to impart Jewish wisdom to Jewish souls.

(6) leah, June 14, 2010 1:43 PM


Today's Jewish schools aren't a good fit for the majority. Most schools are ultra-Orthodox and espouse strict positions that most families don't live by or understand. It's unappealing to enroll and stressful if enrolled. Also-these schools don't accept them-for good and bad reasons. The other choice is conservative schools, which might be better for some, but still not a perfect fit, still confusing, and still only go through the eight grade. Since most people think Judaism ends at Bar/Bat Mitzva, this isn't good enough and could be harmful. We need Jewish education for all Jewish children, from all races, genders, and socio-economic groups to study Judaism throughout all their school years-and beyond-as it was meant to be. Torah was given to all-not just to people wearing black pants, white shirts, and black hats or long sleeves and long skirts or to people who can afford a Jewish private school from grades 1 through 8. it would be good if people would be involved in building new schools that are tailor made for a new community of Jewish education-something more like outreach schools, not in Israel or for young adults, but for children and their families to grow and learn together. Very interactive and inclusive. Very dedicated to the child as a whole and to the family and dedicated to all of the Jews, whether they go or would even think of going to such a school. It should be so true to Judaism that people from most regular Orthodox or observant backgrounds could feel confident in sending their children there as well. It should speak to the children's and families' hearts and souls. It should provide a good secular and excellent Jewish education. It should be made inexpensive. It should have people dedicated to this mission as teachers and principles and it should be advertised and built up in public with community help and funds. Essentially, it should be like an Aish HaTorah for the pre-school through high school set. Any volunteers?

(5) temima, June 14, 2010 1:16 PM

make it a cool trend

People follow what they think is hip and cool. Jewish school is neither. We need to have interesting and great and good people do it in the public eye and then maybe others will follow suit. There has to be a hip factor to it. Look at tall the people taking yoga and kabbala classes because they see people they think are interesting (no comment on these people) do it and then they come to appreciate it on their own. Jewish school doesn't have anyone in public talking about how great it is, how much better their lives are because of it, or being snapped by photographers picking up their children from Jewish day schools and high schools. Jewish education just has not yet been touted as the next big thing. Maybe someone can make it happen.

(4) mona, June 14, 2010 1:10 PM

speak to the heart and make it appealing

There has to be very good reasons for people to move out of the status quo. Why would anyone who gets a free public school education for their children be willing to suddenly send their children to expensive private school when the usual classes in the Jewish schools are not taught by the best teachers and these schools don't have the best resources and even the Jewish education doesn't seem that great based on the Jews we all know. There needs to be an incentive, whether it's better normal education, well-behaved children, children with heart, children who will remain dedicated to their religion and to their parents, or whatever it is.

(3) cindy, June 14, 2010 1:06 PM


people need to go around to jewish people and recruit them and their children to be on board for this. it will take a tremendous amount of care and effort and there must be in place more schools and good schools and the kind of schools that these people would actually send their kids to. and they couldn't cost 20,000 a year per child like all the jewish private schools seem to cost or else people who didn't care until now and wouldn't really care or would want to care won't make that sacrifice.

(2) susa, June 14, 2010 1:03 PM

Better Secualr Education

Make sure more Jewish schools have better secular education or even excellent secular education, so parents won't feel they are losing out on something important, only getting a great secular education for their children and also a Jewish education as a bonus.

(1) Anonymous, June 14, 2010 1:02 PM

Make it free

If it's paid for, as is public school, more people would be willing to send their children, as price is surely a huge barrier. If more funds are raised to give all Jews a low cost or no-cost Jewish education, we wouldn't have this problem with the next generation because most everyone with a real Torah education would understand the need, as all Jews used to understand the need and sacrificed much more than money for it, and even when it was money, they were left with much less than we would be left with today. Then again, the cost of today's Jewish private schools is huge. Also, people without a Jewish education do not always know what they are missing and they will let too many inconveniences are hardships get in the way of educating their children with what they either don't know or don't want to know is necessary. If we can make it very appealing, i.e. free, for most people, their children can get a great education and not be hesitant to pass it on to their own children, no matter what the cost. Until then, no one will pay money for what they don't think is so important. Would you?


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