Reflections on the Jewish Day School
THE two most striking things about the statistics of Jewish education today are that enrollments are growing faster than the Jewish child population and that the enrollment in day schools is growing even faster. (Day schools should not be called parochial schools, since Jews have no parishes.) More than 42,000 children attend such schools-more than 7 per cent of all children receiving any kind of Jewish education at the moment, and 3 or 4 per cent of all Jewish children of school age. The number and the ratio are likely to continue to rise, at least in the short run. About two-thirds of the schools, with three-quarters of the students, are in the New York area.
The most useful way of classifying the schools is by religious sponsorship and official religious tone, though these can be misleading-more than one Orthodox day school was founded and continues to be operated by people whose real love is the Hebrew language and literature. Nearly all the day schools are Orthodox; the Conservatives have established some congregational and intercongregational schools and are thinking of establishing more, and there are even a few Hebraist and Yiddishist schools in which religion is quite secondary. Some Orthodox schools come as close as they can to the Jewish schools of Poland and Lithuania a hundred years ago, with the minimum of secular studies they can get away with, but the day schools I shall be talking about are those of the various shades of Modern Orthodoxy, so called, and of the Conservative movement.
About the Author