Jewish day schools continue to be a hot topic of conversation.
The Times picked up on the proposed public Hebrew immersion school in Englewood, NJ, and asks some questions about the logistics of how a charter school would work.
The proposal in Englewood offered an alternative for Jewish families who either wanted a public alternative to religious schools or no longer could afford them. For the district, which is overwhelmingly black and Hispanic, it offered a pathway toward its mandate of diversifying its schools and the potential to heal some of the fractures in a community where social divisions are mirrored in educational ones.
ON the other hand, Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, of Englewood’s Congregation Ahavath Torah, said religious day schools had become a bulwark against assimilation: families send children there for both a religious education and a Jewish experience strong enough to give them a Jewish identity they’ll carry off to college and beyond. You can’t duplicate that in the public schools, he said.
“We as a Jewish community try to strike a very fine balance between being in the world and participating in society and at the same time maintaining a very strong Jewish identity,” he said. “Until now, the greatest success we’ve had in maintaining that balance has been through the Jewish day school system. We need to be open to new ideas, but I’d be very hesitant to do anything that would threaten the day school process.”
In other day school news, the Providence Journal also reports that a Jewish middle school in Rhode Island is closing its doors.
The Jewish Community Day School is closing its middle school, another example of the way in which the nation’s economic crisis has hurt private schools that are dependent on tuition.
Bruce Wolpert, chairman of the school’s board of trustees, said the middle school, which has 35 students in grades six through eight, will close at the end of the school year. The elementary school, which has 119 students in prekindergarten through grade five, will stay open.
“We were looking at a projected budget deficit of $600,000 next year,” Wolpert said. “We had to take certain steps to ensure the long-term viability of the school.”
The middle school, he said, lost $200,000 this year and enrollment has declined from 70 children 10 years ago to half that today. When the trustees looked at tuition assistance, they also realized that more than 50 percent of the school’s aid was going toward middle school students.
And, according to the Jewish Week, the Orthodox Union is still mulling a bailout for day schools.