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Jewish Education Flourishing in Western Europe, JDC Official Reports

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An official of the American Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) has reported an upsurge in Jewish education throughout Europe, despite a shortage of teachers and schools. According to Stanley Abramovitch, education director of the JDC, “There are today more pupils in Jewish day schools in Western Europe than at any other time before or since World War II.”

Abramovitch said the key issues are the need to improve and enlarge educational facilities, increase funds for maintenance and overcome the critical shortage of qualified Jewish educators. He said that in France, about 7000 children attend full-time Jewish day schools. The Fonds Social Juif Unifie (FSJU), the Consistoire, Alliance Israelie Universelle, Ozar Hatorah, Lubavitch and ORT are expanding and improving their programs. The FSJU and the Jewish Agency have agreed to set up a multi-million dollar fund to double the enrollment in Jewish day schools, he reported.

Several new schools and yeshivas, including some for university student, have been opened by groups and by individuals from North Africa, many of them with the aid of Ozar Hatorah, Abramovitch reported. The Alliance has two schools and teacher training programs. ORT has a number of vocational schools and is starting a new program in Toulouse. The Lubavitcher education program has expanded the girl’s schools outside Paris.

Abramovitch reported that Stockholm has a primary day school with 175 students. In Copenhagen, which has the oldest Jewish day school in Europe, the Jewish community of about 6000 was worried about the constant drop in enrollment 10 years ago. But today enrollment stands at 390, its highest in the last 25 years. Schools in Brussels and Antwerp are also expanding and new schools are being built in Amsterdam and Madrid. In Milan, there are about 1000 pupils in the Jewish school, of a Jewish population of 9500, while another 800 attend Jewish schools in Rome, which has 15,000 Jews.

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