Jewish Day Schools in Decline

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Comments (74)

(58) Mike, March 11, 2015 11:31 PM

possible reasons

I do not know about Jewish day schools in North America, but I can say that maybe people suspect that what is going on in the days schools is not focussing on positive,normal activities and on true Torah studies, but rather intrigues and an insincere and hypocritical people, and snobs. I'm not from North America, and I can't know, but maybe this is what people are suspecting.

What can be the answer? Perhaps private initiatives of individual parents. When it comes to intermarriages and young Jewish adults thinking about converting to another religion, the professionals say that the parents should take on mitzvot, but it has to be real! The children will know if the parents are sincere about their beliefs. It does take a lot of investment, some of it financial in books,synagogue attendance,some time,ect. but most importantly fighting the inner yetzer hara that tells us that activity xyz (watching TV,etc) is 'easier' than studying Torah and we could leave it to someone else. I do not know the social situation in North America, and maybe it IS important for young Jews to grow up in a Jewish environment, to date other Jews, but then again 'quantity is not quality', The environment has to be worth something and that can not be bought with money, and conversely, something great can be built with most means. A Rabbi was asked what is more important, the quality of the teacher or the quality of the body of students, and the Rabbi answered that the body of students is more important because they influence one another and the teacher. A great solution -and not just theoretical, also practical, and even demanded-let's be honest here- is Aliyah to Eretz Yisroel, where religious school education (and also non-religious education) is FREE. And you also get a scholarship for Yeshiva studies!! And if you go to Bar-Ilan University, the tuition is $1000 (only 1000 dollars) a YEAR. Try to beat that :-)
You might save several 100K per child on college education.

(57) Mike, March 11, 2015 9:00 PM

what I don't understand

why is it so expensive. Let's do the math. If the parents of each student pay $200 a month and there are 30 students in a class, there are $6000 of funds per month for these students. If the rent for 1 classroom costs $1000 a month, we have $5000.

If there are 5 hours of Jewish education per day, 6 days a week, 4 weeks a month, this equals 120 hours of Jewish education.

So from our budget of $5000 for lessons, we can spend $41.66 per lesson. If a Rabbi/Jewish educator would hold 2 consecutive lessons a day, he would earn $83 for that day. Not too bad.

The secular subjects can be managed through government grants.

(56) abc, February 25, 2012 12:11 PM

Finances are the main reason

Jewish Day Schools are only for the rich. Even with financial aide, it is too expensive.

(55) Anonymous, February 6, 2012 3:06 AM

Everyone, please see reply to #15 way below.

There is a fabulous, new (2 year old), free Charter School, grades 7-12 that teaches Hebrew. No religion is taught there, so we do have to do that our own. But it has been so worth it.

(54) Samuel, January 31, 2012 11:23 PM

Make Aliyah

Simple: Get out of the comfy galus, and make aliyah already. Please.

(53) Anonymous, January 28, 2012 10:58 PM

Which report does Rabbi Solomon refer to? '08/'09 report from Avi Chai is quite positive.

The '08/'09 report from Avi Chai is quite positive and is the latest on their website. I quote: "• There were 228,174 students in Jewish elementary and secondary schools—the four-year-old level through grade 12—in the 2008-09 school year. This represents an increase of 23,000 or 11% from 2003-04, and an increase of more than 43,000 or nearly 25% since 1998-99. There continues to be significant growth in day school enrollment. • Orthodox day school enrollment continues to grow significantly—a 56% increase in Chassidic schools and a 34% increase in Yeshiva-world schools over the past ten years—in large part due to high fertility rates. • Community day schools continue to demonstrate growth, both in the number of schools—98 in 2008-09 as compared to 75 in 1998-99—and enrollment, which has grown by more than 40% over the past decade. Of note is the increase in Community day high schools, which generates a significant increase in the number of students in non-Orthodox high schools. • The difficulties facing the Conservative can be seen in the nearly 25% decrease in enrollment over the past ten years."

(52) Anonymous, January 27, 2012 3:51 AM

1. The education in some (maybe most..) of the jewish day schools is simply not as good as may be in other schools. 2. Parents might not like what their jewish day school is teaching their children

Anonymous, January 27, 2012 12:43 PM

Not true

Sar in New York has the highest SAT scores for any school it s size in the nation. Many other schools excel as well even if not to the same degree

David, February 2, 2012 4:15 PM

1 school vs the rest

Sar in NYC may be an exellent school, but that doesnt repersent most schools or the avrage school experiance. Many school do not have qualified teachers, and many other schools. In fact, in Chicago where I live, the education is VERY sub par in most of the schools. Teachers worry more about chumras then halachot and standards, and there is no dicipline amongst the students. Teachers can get in touble if they tell a student they did not do a good job, and its sick. This, in addition to the total lack of real support for special needs, is a very disturbing trend.

(51) Chaim, January 26, 2012 4:03 PM

Whining and complaining

It's so tiring to hear the typcial whining and complainig. Blah...blah...blah. A lot of people seem to expect as an entitilement a free or highly subsidized (with other people's money) private education with the best of the best teachers, faciliities, and a thriving diverse student bodies. The world doesn't work that way. Does anyone have an idea how much it costs to hire the best teachers and maintain top flight facilities? A minimum of $10,000 per student. To have a Jewish school that is a combiniation of Harvard, Yeshiva University and Andover Prep school rolled into one package for free is just plain silly. Life is not fair. People have to make choices. Stop complaining and become part of the solution -drop the resentment and envy. It's not becoming or Jewish for that matter.

Anonymous, February 2, 2012 4:21 PM

its not unreasonable

When I went to school in chicago, the 4 high schools were all a top quality education and not unreasonably expensive. From any of these 4 high schools, you could go to any university in the nation. People regularly went to Ivy leauge schools with scholarships, and the standards were very high. The elementary schools that fed into these high schools perpaired the students for what was to come...but then, somewhere along the way, people started getting promotions becuase their husband was learning and they needed the extra money, not based on qualifcations. Adminastrators could no longer acocunt for their budgets and teachers stopped getting regular paychecks, even though enrolment and clase sizes were through the roof. Adminstrators started caring more about chumras then halachot, and started policing students activities outside of school. They started making stupid rules that you could not even own a TV to attned the school...unlelss you ahd money and were above the rules. The schools started teaching girls to get married at 18, and if you didnt marry a learner you were a looser. I have seen all of these things first hand, and its a festering corruptoin that is the problem. Nothing changed in the schools, exccpt their budget went up and they have higher enrolment. There is no explanation or accountibility anymore in the schools at all, and that is the heart of the problem.

(50) Anonymous, January 26, 2012 2:03 AM


It absolutely is about the money. It's not just full time day schools, it's also after school programs. I went to a full time day school until 8th grade in Brooklyn, but now that I live in Manhattan (and make a good living) I couldn't afford to send my 2 kids to a hebrew day school and it's going to be a struggle to send them to an after school program. Prices are absolutely outrageous.

(49) Mordechai Shuali, January 25, 2012 4:34 PM

The Silver Lining of the Ups and Downs

As day school enrollment decreases, how has Yeshivah enrollment been doing? I think you may find that many day-school parents are sending to both Yeshivah Elementary and High Schools throughout the country. We know, or at least I think we know, that the numbers of ba'alei teshuvah are increasing daily as are the numbers of people, both modern orthodox and more traditional, who are moving to Eretz Yisroel. So maybe the decreasing numbers we find in USA day schools is only a sign of growth of the Jewish People. The system did not fail, but rather it has out lived its purpose. Now the question would be how do we bring the less observant - those attending reform and conservative schools or even public schools - to attend day schools?

(48) Patrick, January 25, 2012 3:59 PM

The answer is so simple : Its $. Jewish day schools cost $

A public education is funded by tax dollars so why not send my kids to a Jewish day school? Because it costs very much money which I will have when I`m old of coarse. But We will not need to put my kids in Jewish day school at that time because my kids will be adults. Long story short: 90% of Young couples have 0 $ Older people have $ then ask why don`t our kids go to Jewish day school fulltime.....

(47) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 3:25 PM

Best Investment I made

We are fortunate to live in Toronto. The community supports all types of Jewish schools Reconstructionist to Orthodox and everything in between. Costs are high but some subsidies are available. I believe that our community has the highest percentage Jewish School participation in North America. The key is an attitude in the community that no child should be denied a Jewish Education. (ie there must be big “givers” committed to education) By in large most Toronto Jewish schools are pro-Israel with many Shalichim giving students a positive experience. General studies are not as strong as they could be but the dual work load teaches kids how to apply themselves in University. A physician friend told me that one day chatting in the operating theatre they figured all the Drs were Jewish School grads. Toronto Jewish Day Schools have come to the conclusion that they have to compete with Public "Schools of the Arts", and private prep schools etc. Our children attended a Associated Hebrrew School and at the end of Grade 1 they have a Sidur Ceremony. The children learn the basic prayers, the parents decorate ornate sidur covers and extended families (Bubbies, Zaidies, Aunts plus siblings) all celebrate the event. What a start to a life of committment! As a result of this emphasis on Hebrew, Jewish History and Religion our oldest told us that they plan to make Aliyah. "What did you expect when you send me to Jewish Day School, Jewish High School and Birthright?"

(46) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 10:36 AM

Look to see how it is done in other countries

It really doesn't need that much thought - it's about the money! In the UK where schools are government funded and are only allowed to take voluntary contributions the Jewish school are hugely over-subscribed. This is partly because they are considered have superior academic standards to the secular public schools, but more than anything else the children are immersed in a Jewish environment. It also helps that because schools are not allowed to select children on the basis of what their parents can afford to pay in fees, the children come from all kinds of backgrounds, and so to some extent you avoid the elitism. It also spares the parents who can't afford fees from embarrassment. If I lived in America there is no way I could afford to send my child to a Jewish school, nor would I want her to go to an exclusive school where entrance is determined by wealth.

(45) Sarah Vorchheimer, January 25, 2012 7:11 AM

A Jewish Home

בס"ד A Jewish Day School cannot replace a Jewish Home. An observant Jewish home is the answer to Jewish continuity. V'shinantom L'vaneka - that is the PARENTS have to teach their children how to live a Jewish life by example and teaching,

(44) T., January 25, 2012 5:48 AM

Probably not a suggestion that anyone wants to hear

Perhaps the problem of Jewish continuity, as reflected (in part) by the numerical decline in Jewish day school enrollment is another expression of a long-term historical pattern. The Jewish population does not continuously grow over time. It seems to flourish for a while, then time after time again, it gets pruned. Many of the Jewish people who could have left Egypt, for instance, didn't -- they chose assimilation (and ultimately their own destruction). But some did leave. After the reign of King Solomon, the Jewish people split into two -- ten tribes to the north (Israel) and two tribes to the south (Judea). Ultimately the ten tribes were exiled by the Assyrians; to this day, no one knows who or where they are. But the two tribes did remain. About two centuries later, among the two tribes of Judea who were exiled to Babylon, many chose to assimilate rather than return to their land with Ezra or Nechemiah 70 years later. But some did return. Of the untold numbers of Jewish communities in medieval Europe that were persecuted, annihilated, banished or forced to convert, often few survived. But some did survive. Two thirds of European Jewry was destroyed during the Holocaust -- but some migrated beforehand; others outlived the camps. This will sound like a horrible supposition, but maybe today's day school decline is one of this current generation's prunings. Many Jews may be lost from the fold, but some will go on to birth and nourish the next generation of Jews. Who's in, and who's out, and why? I have no idea; only Hashem sees the whole picture, across all the millennia. The Bible says we will be few in number -- and has not history played out that projection with exactitude? If someone has a spiritual perspective of this (possibly imagined) pattern over time, I'd appreciate hearing it. Thanks in advance.

(43) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 4:56 AM

Jewish Day Schools

As soon as the Jewish Federations change their focus of fund distribution to Jewish Day and High Schools the schools will become overcrowded. Catering to non-Jewish needs (trips to Israel for politicians, food for all the needy regardless of religion, tutoring for immigrant pupils often to the exclusion of needy Jewish pupils, etc.

(42) Tzvi, January 25, 2012 4:38 AM

Many Issues/Opportunities

Day school ends too soon to make a lifetime difference. Those same children need to be exposed to Jewish high schools, college and professional school. I'd also guess that as synagogue affiliation shrinks, and fewer non-Orthodox parents pray daily, that the inclination to use day schools shrinks. Plus the issues others have mentioned. And demographics. The answer, as always, is within. If we want it, we can make it happen. If not...

(41) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 4:08 AM


So the next time you see a group of guys hanging out and smoking on Shabbos, all they are trying to tell you is, “I used to be just like you. I am hurt and I am lonely. But because I look different and may have had differences of opinion that others have disregarded and brushed away, gave me the impression that no one really cared. But all I really want is to be loved. Show them that you do.

(40) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 4:08 AM


But what can be expected from a student who had her teacher tell her in front of the whole class that because she has long hair, she’ll burn in Hell? Try to imagine the hurt, the embarrassment of being humiliated in front of your friends? Where does all this close-mindedness and lack of acceptance originate from? How can teachers expect their students to avoid having long hair when so many are struggling with the keeping of simple halachos? Im not saying that there shouldn’t be discussion of what to strive for. But what about putting things onto a more practical level, rather than making kids feel alone and miserable because there is so much talk of why we don’t fit the mold that’s been asked of us to fill? So many teens hold their pain inside of them and pretend to be who the school has asked us to be. Why? Maybe because many of the issues they suffer with just aren’t the things one would call an ‘appropriate’ subject. Is this to protect the school’s reputation? Is it because no one knows how to deal with them, or do they just prefer to pretend that these problems don’t exist? So many times, it seems that we, students must turn to more drastic means to let the adults in our world know that something is dreadfully wrong. But this is not what Judaism is all about. It’s supposed to be a religion of love, warmth, and acceptance. What so many schools don’t stress today, is that Yiddeshkeit is about knowing the balance of things. Everything you can possibly want and desire is totally permissible. It just has to be at the right times and in the right proportions, so that we can enjoy these pleasures in the best way. Judaism is meant to be an acceptance of the individual. Regardless what they look like, or what they have done in the past. Hashem chooses to judge us “Baasher Hu Sham.” Not on what we have done, but on how we are now and what we hope for in the future. This is chinuch with love! The key to acceptance.

(39) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 4:07 AM

even orthodox jew have the problem with jewish day schools

Accept Me I have always been a little afraid to express my true thoughts, but now that I’ve got the chance, I’m going to be very honest. Many people in the Jewish community, or so called, ‘mechanchim’, choose to deny and stash the problems of today’s society under the table, rather than accepting and dealing with them. I remember as an insecure 6th grader I had finally mustered up the courage to raise my hand in class and ask, “How do we know that everything written in the Torah is true?” My teacher had angrily replied that such questions were appikorsis and shouldn’t be asked. I’ll never forget the shame and fury I had felt towards the person who had crushed my already low self-esteem. Unfortunately, many of these stories have been constantly repeated in our society, which is causing us to lose focus on what being Jewish really means. Many teenagers have decided to give up religion altogether because no one had the decency or patience to answer their questions. To show them what Judaism is really all about. Have you ever bumped into a friend or a neighbor of yours who ‘went off?’ Did you stare at them? Or did you choose to gossip about how they looked or what they’ve done? Did you ever stop to wonder of their gut wrenching stories and pain that lay hidden beneath their skintight jeans and tank tops? I have spoken to my peers and this is what I’ve come up with; many kids my age are getting the wrong image. Judaism seems to be a religion that is constantly threatening punishment. Many get the impression that God sits with a stick and hits us as soon as we step out of line. That if you forgot to say a bracha, you’ll choke on your food.

Andy, January 25, 2012 2:39 PM

God does hit us at times maybe to wake us up.It does seem cruel to me but as I'm not God and belong to a people of faith what can I do other than continue to learn an do or quit.

"Many get the impression that God sits with a stick and hits us as soon as we step out of line." It seems to me often not immediately but at some point if the behavior continues maybe in order to get our attention when necessary. Sometimes a torn coat other times a holocaust. It's hard to square that with a loving God, but without enough evidence to constitute proof I believe that's the case. Maybe for the weakest of all reasons faith?

(38) Shira, January 25, 2012 3:26 AM

The answers are within!

Jewish days schools are not the whole answer. People expect schools to instill values and educate their children. If we want Jewish continuity, then, we need as parents to work on our own Jewish values and inner spirituality. Children learn from their home. If we want to have our children committed to Judaism, then the question to ask ourselves is: what are we doing to instill a positive Jewish identify within ourselves that our children would want to emulate?

(37) Anonymous, January 25, 2012 2:38 AM

Not all kids fit in because of learning differences

The day schools are very limited in the type of student that they service successfully. If a student has difficulties handling written language processing in two languages with not such great teaching methodology, or needs more creative options than the typical day school offers, he/she may look unsuccessful and may even be stigmatized in the community.

Anonymous, January 25, 2012 7:04 PM

Learning differences.

As much as I am interested in the future of the Jewish people, I feel compelled to comment on how the day schools address learning differences. I do not feel this has any bearing on the future of the Jewish people. It's just too small of a population. My kids have been through Orthodox day schools. My youngest has a reading disability. What I can honestly say about our experience, is that it depends on the teacher. Some teachers "get it" and some don't. I think my child is in a very small minority. I don't think there are many kids like him in Jewish day schools. He has not been stigmatized, but reading/processing disabilities are heartbreaking. I don't know that many teachers are equipped to deal with learning disabilities. Recently I was speaking with a special ed teacher whose daughter is studying education in college. Her daughter is not required to take a special ed course in order to graduate with a degree in education! Maybe that area is covered by special ed teachers. The day schools do have my son's best interest at heart, and they try. P'tach was a wonderful program for him in grammar school, but there is nothing like it at the high school level where we live. It general, it seems to fall on the parents' shoulders to find suitable solutions. I am very grateful for those educators who have helped and are helping my son. I still think the Jewish day school is a wonderful place for all Jewish children. I don't think this subtopic has anything to do with the topic of the future of the Jewish people. It seams to me that kids with learning disabilities are a very small group in comparison to the larger Jewish population.

(36) HAMMER, January 24, 2012 9:56 PM

Jewish edication should be free and available for all Jewish children!

For 35 years I am telling Jewish communities leaders again and again: you are converting Jewish youth into culturally affiliated group, as you are always finding money for hundreds of different program except for Jewish education of our children. A now we are crying that our children have no affiliation with Jewish communities or Jewish causes. However when we read communities news papers there are nothing about issues that less than 10% of Jewish children are in Jewish communities schools. Wait for another 20 years and Jewish communities will disappear, except orthodox communities. The rest just will be Jewish cultural associations - Let's eat.

(35) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 9:48 PM

We must help wake up each other's soul and unite!

Our four children attend a Jewish Day School. We are not orthodox, however, have a deep spiritual connection to G-d and Judaism. Our school, believes that every Jewish child deserves this education. In turn, the school bends over backwards to insure that each family gets a substantial scholarship if needed! Parents are asked to help out at the school when possible and make fundraising calls at two scheduled telethons. This is not too much to ask. While money is an issue, it is the parent's lack of connection to their own spirtuality that I believe is the bigger issue. Parents and grandparents of reform, conservative, and orthodox communities must unite. It is time for all Jews to awaken and rekindle their own connection to G-d. All of us contain a special spark, unique and ours alone. We must all realize that each person is important to the whole community. We must respect each other, listen and learn. We must help each other ignite the spark inside. How do we do that? Invite a family for Shabbat dinner. Start a book club and read "Garden of Emmuna" by Rabbi Shalom Arush. Take a friend and attend an Aish class or Jewish Learning Institute class, or just for coffee and discussion. Find Jewish friends with kids and arrange for all the kids to go to a Jewish day or overnight camp. Those people reading this are already interested in Judaism. So I'm speaking to you... call a friend or family today and help awaken their soul. Once you are back in touch with your own spirituality you will greatly consider having your children experience their spirtuality now, too. Jewish Day school is the place. Anything else, such as a weekly Sunday school class (which is nice) is just a "band-aid" . If you get your children in to Jewish Day School, your children will bring you back to G-d.

(34) Lily, January 24, 2012 9:32 PM

Hopefully when one door closes....

We saw this problem after the birth of our first child and moved to Israel where we enjoy wonderful public jewish education. It seemed obvious to us that it was time for Jews who are interested in Jewish continuity to return home and that the future lies In Israel. An investment in G-d's promise of redemption, in the future of the Jewish people can only really be made in Israel since it had been returned to us. Unfortunately historically our nation is slow to look forward and prefers to figure out why the old ways aren't working instead of looking to where we are supposed to be moving ourselves as a people. The question is not how to do we save some Jews the question is how do we create and contribute to bringing redemption and then the Jews will save themselves.

(33) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 9:26 PM

It's all about the money

Being observant of kashrut and shabbath, we feel it important to have our 3 children in a Jewish environment where they will fit in with children from similar environments. So they go to a Jewish day school. But every month when we have to pay $5000 for schooling, we have to reconsider our decision and whether we can still afford it. With schooling inflation higher than salary increases, the time may come when we become part of the declining day school statistic.

(32) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 9:16 PM

its our own foult

its our own foult-- we are being selective whom to accept and in which school-- our own jewish children. the parents are dictating it, th rabbies are following it becouse parent are paying for it its very much discriminatory within differend religiouse movements. the child from one movement will not marry the other, etc. etc. the mahlokes betwin our own people- that whats cousing it- its not the money...

(31) Jack Shnaier, January 24, 2012 8:58 PM

No money No Jewish School

In good financial eras the breadwinner can & does send the children to a Jewish School.When the going is tough,like now,the breadwinner has to pay 1)Mortgage 2)Food 3)Transport 4)Clothing.In todays rising costs Free Education is then preferred to religious schools (whether they are Jewish,Protestant,Catholic or Muslim ) where there is no free education & these aforementioned schools charge fees so that they are able to sustain themselves.In addition if one has a kosher Jewish home & keeps the spirit of JUDAISM at home,then with a few hours a week at the Schule one could learn more about JUDAISM.

(30) Judy, January 24, 2012 8:42 PM

This question deserves a whole book

As a mother of 2 day school graduates and a grandmother of children who will be entering day school soon, I could write an entire book about this subject. The previous commenters have already mentioned the ridiculously high cost of a Jewish day school education and the frequently mediocre (or worse) quality of both the Jewish and secular education. Even worse is the fact that most day school graduates who come from homes without Yiddishkeit typically go away from anything Jewish the day after they get their diploma, if not sooner. I have witnessed this myself. Essentially, we are faced with the "chicken or egg" dilemma - which comes first, the education of parents or of their children. If the parents don't care a great deal about what their kids are learning in day school and don't practice it at home, the kids won't either. So, how do you "get" the parents before they have kids. I believe that Aish is one of the most important organizations in this effort. I believe that the trend in this country is a shrinking number of practicing Jews, BUT those who are carrying on the tradition generally have fairly large families and demonstrate to their children the importance of remaining observantly Jewish, and this small remnant will somehow secure our future -- always with the help of G-d.

(29) Alex, January 24, 2012 7:29 PM

Too little ROI

Problems of Jewish schools in general (with notable exceptions): 1. Too expensive Most parents already pay real estate taxes, which fund public schools. However, none of those taxes are contributed to Jewish schools. In other countries (e.g. UK) Jewish schools receive government funding and they are full. 2. Poor secular and barely acceptable kodesh education. The return on investment is abysmally low. 3. Inefficient use of students' time, with crazy all-day schedules and all-nighters of homework, of dubious value. 4. For many students, long commute, because Jewish schools are geographically sparse. 5. Relatively small number of students in each school, which drives cost up, kills any synergy, and provides limited social opportunities for the students.

James Sasse, January 25, 2012 1:41 AM

Public School Disaster

Public schools are costing tax payers more and more and are performing less and less! Schools across America need to close down and any taxes collected should be given to private schools! This will raise America's education stand to the rest of the world! School voucher's a good thing! We need to shut down NEA and improve America so she can compete! Any private school will leave our public schools behind! Also public schools social engineer children to accept immoral behavior! Thankyou. James.

(28) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 7:18 PM


It's all about the cost for us. We had a choice between Jewish and Catholic school. Catholic school was 1/2 the cost of Jewish day school. I can't pay $10,000 a year (that doesn't include uniforms and extras plus a second child on the way $20,000 a year.) That was more than our mortgage payment. Now, we've move overseas and have them in a public school (on a US Military base). The Jewish community was also very exclusive feeling....this coming from a place I grew up in. I hope that more parents can chime in. It looks like the general feeling is that it's way too much money!

(27) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 7:17 PM

No good reason

As soon as you can convince non-orthodox Jews to spend thousands of dollars every year to send their kids to day school when they could be going to public school for free, then the system will start being successful. As it is, why should anyone not serious about Judaism spend all that money? I'm orthodox and I can barely stand forking over all that money so my kids can go to a "Jewish orthodox" school where they are taught by secular Jews and goyim and there is no dress code. Why bother?

debra, January 24, 2012 11:16 PM

racism among fellow Jews is abhorent

I am a secular Jew and I find just such a response as the one above a reason not to include my children in such a narrow minded and non-inclusive society. We are all Jews. We should not be saying "you are not good enough for me". It is just so "ugly".

Anonymous, January 25, 2012 4:59 PM

Hi Debra, I am the one who posted the above comment and I just want to clarify something. I love Jews of any and all affiliations. One of my dearest friends is secular. Secular Jews are our brothers and sisters. My problem only begins when secular Jews are in positions of authority in an orthodox school. They are teaching the kids about Judaism and how to appreciate and love the mitzvos. This does not make sense and is hypocritical to the kids. It has nothing to do with the value of non-orthodox Jews as people.

(26) David S. Levine, January 24, 2012 4:55 PM

It's The Economy, Stupid

The economic decline of the past 4 years is what's mostly behind the Jewish day school decline. Less discretionary income leads to a contraction of spending when there are alternatives available and, unfortunately, government schools are a seemingly cost free alternative. The cost will be lower Jewish identification and more intermarriage. In order to stem this tide new policies are needed which will spur the economy and in order to institute new economic policies we need a new government administration. So perhaps the answer is to ignore the bias of the media, the endorsements of the evil New York Times and vote Republican at all levels this November. Defeating the Democ-rats will be good for Israel and good for the American Jewish community and its continuity.

Lorraine Bancroft, January 25, 2012 1:35 PM

Respect is the bottom line

Although you have valid points, the use of derogatory speech reflects poorly on you, not on the one you're aiming at. The economy has had an enormous impact on private schools, because people with big money, lost big money, and they tend to be the biggest supporters of private institutions. People have been struggling with tuition since private schools came into existence. My mother was in a private school in the 50's and when the principle made her mother cry, because she asked for extra time to come up with the tuition, the principal yelled at her. She didn't even ask for a scholarship, just time. My mother refused to go back to the school, and instead went to public school. I know someone that was told that the school wasn't a charity! I know very few private schools that don't go looking for charity. Many children are either home schooled or sent to public schools because they are denied entry into Hebrew schools because of inability to pay, or because the child has an issue that the school is not willing to deal with. You never know who is going to be the next big contributor, so they're cutting off their noses to spite their faces. Considering the enormous tax bill most Jews pay, it's ridiculous that the government doesn't contribute to the support of these institutions. Especially when you consider that it's contributing to the education of future voters, and tax payers. I wouldn't classify any one political party as rats. When voting, you have to look at an individual, at their record, who they "hang out with", and who's funding their campaign. I would have voted for Pat Moynahan, may he rest in peace, for any post he sought, because he was a "mentch". He stayed true to his beliefs, and was willing to go that extra mile for his constituents. Larger families, B"H, and more men going into learning, as opposed to a regular paying job, is having a major impact on the lack of funds available to the schools. We need a reality check, if we want a fiscal one.

(25) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 4:48 PM

Maybe this solution would work

I heard from Rabbi Jacob Jungreis: "There are B"H many organizations for Yidden (Hatzoloh, Kashruth, etc.), but very little that deal with covering tuition to make it free for all yidden! All Jewish education in this country should be tuition-free, and we could triple the enrollment! There are many Jewish organizations out there, but few in the U.S. that actually takes children and pays for their Jewish education!"

(24) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 4:47 PM

Sadly it is the Cost!!!

I tried for years to get my children into a good Jewish Day School! I wanted desperately to have them start at Kindergarten so it would be a way of life for them. It all boiled down to money! Even at the discount that I was offered based on our family's low income status it was still more than our rent! I even offered to volunteer at the school but to no avail. I now homeschool my children since a public school education was not an option for our family and have them attend Hebrew School every Sunday.

(23) Lindsey, January 24, 2012 4:07 PM

Money, money, money...

I am a recent convert, and so you can probably imagine the level of excitement my children have towards learning about Judaism and what it means "growing up Jewish." I want them to have every opportunity possible to be completely immersed in Judaism; we are passionate about our faith and want nothing more than to learn and grow. There is only one day school in our area, though, and it is not cheap. In the least. To send both our children to day school, I would have to get at least a part time job outside the home and devote the entirety of my paycheck to their tuition. At least $20,000. That is on top of the money we contribute to our synagogue on a monthly basis, and the tuition we pay our synagogue for weekly religious school (tuition for both girls that we can only afford to pay yearly out of our tax return, and I'm terrified we won't be able to afford Hebrew school once my oldest is in third grade, never mind when my youngest gets there as well). All this without even figuring in the gas money it would cost to drive them to and from day school. Do I want to send them? Absolutely. Is it feasible? Only if I were to somehow strike it rich.

Anonymous, January 25, 2012 2:43 PM

move to Israel

A realistic option for some id to move to Israel where both health care and Jewish education are affordable

(22) Joe BK, January 24, 2012 3:55 PM

It's a community business

It is a trivial statement that purpose of any educational system is to provide best education, so the highest quality is number one and that includes high tech tools. Then comes affordability. Jewish education is too expensive and becomes a status symbol for snobs. All this requires money and volunteer effort. Here the community must be involved, people living in the area must be invited and donate, parents in particular. Extra-curriculum activities led by volunteers must be developed. Invite prominent members of the community, including gentiles, to give lectures, lead field trips and such. In summary, stand out for quality and stand back for price.

(21) Gerald Ness, January 24, 2012 2:54 PM

What do you mean by non orthodox day schools?

I have many years of experience in the day school area. I am curious what you meant? I would like to discuss this with you. Please send me you phone number and we can arrange a time to speak. Thank you

(20) Hannah, January 24, 2012 2:47 PM

Not Affordable/No Talmud Torah Alvailable

In the region where I am (Northern California) this is nearly unheard of. Yes there are Jewish Day Schools but if you are not a Spielberg you cannot send your children there. The scholarship programs do not even work for many. The "Hebrew Schools" do not even teach Jewish History Modern or even Zionism. The "J" Street version is being passed. My parents were not rich but barely Middle class. Yet the synagogue allowed us children to go via either a bartering or a sliding scale system. At the time (60s/70s) the shuls wanted the children to be Jewish and to be proud of being a Jew. When my children were going, this was not the case. You either had to pay a huge tuition and Join or be on a waiting list. But even the Bureau of Jewish Education would not even help with the costs because we were not Soviet Jews. Now I found out that the one in the town I reside in has joined with a Reconstructionist-type Synagogue which is over 30 miles from here - and children are not given a regular education. They meet every other week for one day. The Chabad is also over 30 miles. Not many parents want to drive their children as I have noticed. I hate sounding like a pessimist. If the synagogues can get together or the Jewish Bureau of Education can help - to hire tutors to meet anywhere for a nominal fee - then one would see an increase in participation from Jews. Even in the shtetls there was someone to teach the children. Today, only in high populated towns will one find this. If one lived in Oakland, SF, San Jose - then no problem in finding assistance and place to go. But north of those areas - nothing.

(19) David, January 24, 2012 2:46 PM

Not just day schools, but afternoon schools as well

It's not just Jewish day schools that are in decline, but also after school Hebrew school programs that are seeing a declining enrollment. There is a real problem with gaining the attention of the Jewish parent to this decline, and in capturing the limited "free" time kids have today. The ancient curriculum followed in the Hebrew schools just doesn't bring kids to the schools, and even those who do attend are turned off by the experience. If you take a look at most Hebrew school classes, you'll see kids who are bored and doing things other than paying attention, whether it's public school homework or playing with their phones or just doodling. We, as a commuunity, need to figure out how to capture these kids (and their parents) and keep them interested and involved.

(18) Frank Adam, January 24, 2012 2:37 PM

Try the interface between religion and society at large.

First the day school movement is far superior to heder and the teachers and methods much more professional than as late as the 50's when heder was staffed by those who could not do anything else. Second "Faith is caught not taught," (Emmanuel Jacobovitz) and like TB is a clever germ that needs a cocktail of treatments to cur(at?)e it. Part of the problem is that all the traditional religions emerged from the era of villages and market town subsistence agriculture where everybody knew everybody and the clergy was the only villager with more than three R's education. Too many see decline in faith as a function of decline in observance and affiliation but psychologically the relationship is the reverse. Faith in general with affects and intellect is the third leg of the stool of the mind. The link between life and religion is the intellectual weak pin of our time. However to action: in Britain and many other countries it is permissible to fund religious schools with public money but 1) piety and affiliation does not necessarily follow for all, because school is conscript. 2) Certainly whether the pupils like teacher is always a big reality in whether they like a subject and "go nap" on it. 3) To catch the children in non-denominational US public funded schools try lending them (against deposit) teach yourself Judaism books about the history (eg Graetz/Dimont, Behrman House books), the festivals and other practices and rites of passage (Karp / KTAV,Strassfield's TheJewish Catalog 1,2,3), synagogue architecture, Martin Gilbert's history atlas, the parashot of the week, Jewish Child's Memo Book(5booklets).... Like train sets Dad might read these. Buy black and white editions for illustrations, maps and charts as these photocopy simply - and can be coloured in, "If I do I learn..." 4) Make You-tube clips of as much of the above and the services and rituals besides the music and put the stuff out on the net. Finally, "Don't give up the ship."

(17) Leschins, January 24, 2012 2:33 PM

This is where we have failed . . .

This is where we have failed as a generation. If the World Jewish Congress took all that Holocaust money and put it towards affordable Jewish education, we would be honoring the lives of those who perished while at the same time fortifying our existence and continuity as Jews. Why is it that most Catholic Schools offer an excellent education for about $400 a month while a Jewish Day School costs about five times that amount ($2,000 a month) -- and as much as eight times that amount ($3,200 a month) in big cities like New York??? The answer is because the Church supplements Catholic Schools. We have failed as a generation in putting into place some form of financial aid that guarantees every Jewish child a Jewish Day School or yeshiva education at an affordable price.

(16) suzanne, January 24, 2012 2:12 PM

It IS a terrible problem

Once a religion becomes viable for only the most wealthy, it's a no brainer - it's not going to last unless the parents are SO committed they are willing to live in semi-poverty. Yes, something MUST be done about Jewish education. As far as the non orthadox schools being down 10 percent are concerned, does the rabbi know if the children that would be attending these schools in the first place have even been born? I thought I read statistics not long ago which stated that a Jewish women who is not married by 23 (or a number close to that) has a VERY high chance of not being married either several years later. This effectively wipes out her chances of having a reasonable size family - and for many, ANY family at all. Also, people should consider aliyah, it's probably the best solution overall.

(15) Rachel, January 24, 2012 2:06 PM

2 questions, 2 answers

1. It's not that people aren't interested -- but that many cannot afford $20,000 per child per year, especially when one lives in an area with excellent public schools. 2. There will always be a place for day schools (just as there is a place for non-Jewish private schools) for those who can afford them. I think everyone else should have access to a 4-days-per week after school program, with transportation provided from public school to the after school site (perhaps at a synagogue or Jewish community center.) One other possibility would be Hebrew curriculum in public schools as a foreign language (just like French, Spanish, Chinese), or Hebrew charter schools. If non-Jews want to study there, that's fine, as long as all the students are getting the language skills, which can then be further developed in a synagogue program.

Anonymous, February 6, 2012 3:00 AM

To #15, There is a free Charter School, grades 7-12

Hi, my child attends the Albert Einstein Academy in Santa Clarita, California. They have a fabulous Hebrew teacher there. It is a college preparatory school. They also teach Latin, Mandarin, Arabic, Spanish, and plan to add Greek, and any language that they have at least 8 students interested in learning. This attracts quite a diverse student body. The students wear uniforms and no bullying is permitted. My child learned more Hebrew there after only 2 months, then in many years at various Jewish schools. And sadly, I who have a lot to learn, can apparently teach her about our religion, and have found better books, and web sites then the Jewish schools did. It is not just about the cost else where, it's about the quality of the education. And if we could get this charter school approved, in our very anti-Jewish area, others can too!!! Other community leaders should visit our school, it is a great model for others to aim for!!! We very much feel so blessed to have this opportunity, and wish the same for others. It's possible.

(14) Menachem, January 24, 2012 1:43 PM

The answer is Israel

Religious education in Israel is very very reasonable. You can send your children to public religious schools for very very little or semi private for more money. If you have children and you want them to have a Jewish education in a serious way, then move already or face assimilation in the US. You very well may lose your grandchildren and maybe your children. One day you will cry and it will be too late.

(13) Anonymous, January 24, 2012 1:36 PM

It's TOTALLY about the money!

You are looking for answers other than money? Stop - it is TOTALLY about the money. Look I send my two Daughters to day schools - one high school and one Middle school - the tuition costs over $40,000 plus books, plus trips, plus pictures plus plus plus. Now you tell me other than very high earners who can afford to send their kids to such schools? IT costs us more than university will to keep our kids in the Jewish bubble. IT IS TOTALLY about the money and the price creep. Every year it goes up and no one consolidates the schools to cut overhead. School salaries and over packing the schools with non-essential employees and programs also eats up huge wacks of cash - oh send the parents the bill. No business could survive this way and you wonder why enrolment is declining let alone not growing? You think it is a matter of a lack of commitment? If you do you are INSANE. It is about the money. You can only bleed so much and still survive.

(12) Jessica Salzman, January 24, 2012 1:31 PM

For us, money is the only reason!

My soon-to-be-seven-year-old daughter WANTS to go to Jewish Day School. And we would LOVE to send her. The cost is simply prohibitive. Over $20K per year for elementary school! There's just no way for us to afford that and even with financial assistance, the cost was still pushing $6K/year. As a two-income earner household, we just don't have that amount of disposable income. What to do about it? I don't know. Perhaps the wealthiest of Jews have ideas about how to infuse the schools with capital so we, the working class Jews, have access too?

(11) Andy, January 24, 2012 1:06 PM

Never was a real issue in the non Orthodox world.Solution seems to be there but not desire.

In the non Orthodox world day school was only a consideration for a tiny minority.Even for the minority open to Jewish day school for their kids[note Israeli example where even when free most parents choose a non religious track for their kids] when the public school was decent the expense was not worth it for most parents.The answer for change is in front of us in the Haredi community where almost 100% receive private full time Jewish education even though the average family income is less, and the number of kids per family are greater. It's simply that for them Jewish education is a huge priority.One can't force that value on others.They have to decide for themnselves, and ususally before they marry and have children

(10) David, January 24, 2012 11:28 AM


If people are so concerned about day school cost-benefits (as they should be), they should really consider making aliyah. In Israel, you get a FREE day school education, and you kids are almost guaranteed to marry Jewish.

(9) Anonymous, January 23, 2012 9:24 AM

There are many things wrong with the current Jewish education that we/our children are receiving. As previous readers mentioned, the problems range from unaffordable tuition to poor quality Jewish education. The only viable solution I can think of is to send our kids to public schools and hire a Rabbi/private tutor to teach them Judaic studies in the afternoons. That way each child will get individual attention and acquire more of an appreciation towards Judaism.

(8) Anonymous, January 23, 2012 4:46 AM


I was unable to put our kids in Jewish Day school 15 years ago because of cost. It was very disheartening to realize that I had to be rich to afford Jewish day school. We found the same to be true for joining a synagogue. We waited until it was time for the boys to go to Hebrew school when we had absolutely NO choice. It was financially difficult and the Hebrew school was very generous to give us help. But it was very embarrassing to have to ask for it because both my husband and I were working full time - he was an engineer and I was a registered nurse.

Anonymous, January 24, 2012 2:58 PM

How true - some help

My children were going to whatever I can put them in. I couldn't afford much - and I had to beg to allow them to allow my children to be taught. I became the snack person (there wasn't any). I also cleaned up afterwards. Would do any typing that was needed. I also worked full time. And I also was pushing for 3 days/week classes for the kids instead of every other week for one day. I even did a bulletin to which I was let go because I put quotes from famous Jews in it and many liked it except for the ones who do not believe in Israel's right to exist. It was very hard but I did it.

(7) Anonymous, January 23, 2012 2:55 AM


There is a genuine lack of ahava (love) felt . As long as values are placed on externals, and not the total ahavas yisroel necessary for total kiruv, interest is lost.

(6) Anonymous, January 23, 2012 2:47 AM

Money and appeal

We have to make it affordable. Parents have little incentive if they have so little Jewish education themselves! We have to make it appealing to capture the interest of a society fascinated by technology, etc.

(5) Eric, January 23, 2012 2:23 AM

Economics is dictating our Judaism

As much as practicing Judaism relies on faith and discipline, it isn't cheap. I know personally families with parents begging Jewish Day Schools to take their kids so they will grow up around Jews turned down. Unfortunately, you have to pay a premium to be Jewish, as horrible and wrong as it sounds. As many have noted, with the economy being what it is (with no sign of serious improvement), new families will show an even further decline in sending kids to Jewish schools. You said "besides the financial reasons", but to be perfectly fair, despite whatever a family wants for their kids, if you can't afford it, you won't get accepted, and in the unlikely circumstance these schools accept children from families with modest resources, it's a struggle, year after year, to get your kids back in. "Millions of dollars have been poured into Jewish Day Schools". Maybe the problem is that it isn't being allocated to families who are desperate for their kids to be in these schools. 99% of the children I know who attend these schools come from families that don't even care to practice Judaism. Why aren't portions of the "millions" going to pay for scholarships of children from homes that can't afford schools? If the answer is that it isn't possible for everyone to get into these schools, then that really undermines their reason for existence in the first place, to save the ENTIRE future generations (or has it become a mission to save only those with money?). I'm sorry if my tone has offended anyone, but it really seems that Jewish Day Schools don't cater to the entire Jewish population anymore, just those who can afford it. If Judaism has become something that requires a premium in order to partake in, then what is that saying for where our community is going?

Hinda, January 24, 2012 2:52 PM

Very true - thank you!

Your tone did not offend me. I noticed I am not the only one who is very disappointed in what has been the norm for now over 20 years. Children are not taught Jewish history - or famous Jews of the 17th-current centuries. If you can't afford it - don't bother attitude is the norm, Jewish agencies do not even help because the family is not from the former USSR, Ethiopian, or Arab areas. Too bad if you are a 3rd or 4th or 5th generation American. Too bad if you are not well to do or your parents are in bankruptcy. There is no help. I've seen non-Jews get scholarships over Jews. Is this right? Yes we are to be a light upon the world but are we suppose to neglect Jewish Education upon Jews? Plus, when the community in the area is not pro-Israel but pro-Arab what do you do? The parents at best are not educated to teach and what child really wants to be taught by his/her parent? Especially at the age of 10? Not many. It's heart-wrenching.

(4) Lisa, January 20, 2012 12:51 PM

Maybe this is the reason...Are we getting our money's worth?

Lesson #1.....many of the non-orthodox have other higher priorities....jewish schools just don't make the cut & if they do it's just till Bar/Bat Mitzva Lesson #2...$$$.....the economy...who has $80,000 ( ex. if you have 4 kids) to put towards education every year? That used to be the cost of a house!!! Now it's 9 months of Jewish education.....its really absured!! I know my kids are in Jewish schools & I have to say..the education is just OK!! What we do hope to get for our kids is a love for Judaism, Israel & hope to marry within our faith. Maybe it's not all about reading, writing & arithmatic!!! Lesson #3....Let's not leave all the teaching of Torah, values & ethics to the teachers...we too , as parents, have our work cut out for us!!

(3) Anonymous, January 20, 2012 12:46 AM

Deleted comment

This comment has been deleted.

Anonymous, January 20, 2012 12:52 PM


Please explain.........very harsh statement!!

(2) Anonymous, January 20, 2012 12:10 AM

Jewish continuity via promoting jewish dating and marriage

I have 2 sons in their 20s. Both want to marry Jewish and have delayed serious relationship as they establish careers and professions. There needs to be more events for Jewish singles in this age group to meet each other in person, or to be matched and introduced. The orthodox community is more marriage minded at an earlier age and perhaps the orthodox community should reach out more to promote singles/shiduch events to the larger jewish community. Maintaining jewish marriage is the framework for jewish continuity.

Shoshana, January 22, 2012 9:16 PM

you are right

You are %100 right. The ONLY way that Judaism can continue is through Jewish marriage. Though I live in Jerusalem we keep hearing about the large number of single girls available who cannot find suitable Jewish boys. Perhaps you should contact your local Aish organization. If there isn't one near you, then the closest one, and ask them for advice as to where your sons could meet Jewish girls. They sound like very fine and responsible boys and please G-d they will find Jewish girls who will be wonderful wives and mothers and they will build beautiful Jewish homes. May yoiu have a lot of naches from them.

(1) Tova, January 19, 2012 8:27 PM

A theory.

Two problems: 1. Day schools charge inflated, unrealistic amounts of money for an education that is usually of a lower quality (Judaically, Socially, and Secularly) than what is available at a non-inner-city public school with a few good tutoring rebbeim. 2. Speaking from my own experience, day school completely turned me off to yiddishkeit due to a social elitism and a gross disrespect of bein adam l'chaveiro. I do not know a single person whom was not bullied throughout their day school experience (no matter where they're from) -- especially those of us who lacked money or social status. If the Diaspora's Jews want a Jewish Identity, they need to stop focusing on the gasmiyut (money, status, objects) and treat each other according to the same principles they allegedly teach our children -- beginning with bein adam le'chavero and kavod habriot.

Lisa, January 20, 2012 12:33 PM

No school gets an A's sad that for all that $$$$ the education is very basic!! (of course there are exceptions)...& those who donate more for the school dinner do get "the extra dessert" in many ways! But I think that is how it is everywhere......


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