US cuts back on education

By Simon Rocker, March 19, 2009

Jewish schools should take over teacher training and curriculum development from the United Synagogue, the US believes.

The US wants to “shift responsibi-lity to where it belongs”, its president, Simon Hochhauser, told a meeting of its council in Hendon on Monday.

Until now, the US’s Agency for Jewish Education has overseen teacher training and the production of Jewish studies material.

Although the US would continue to give financial and other support to such work, “these functions should be taken on by the schools themselves because it is their curricula and their teachers,” Dr Hochhauser said.

US leaders also thought responsibility for consulting with the government on educational policy should move from the AJE, “probably” to the Board of Deputies.

The proposed changes appear to leave little role for the AJE since its work with the cheder system has already been taken over by Tribe, the US young people’s division.

Dr Hochhauser further advocated closer links between Jewish schools and local congregations. “The real test of a successful school is the degree to which the graduates later become active members of our Jewish community.” Another suggestion was setting up parallel programmes for parents to learn the same subjects as their children, albeit from an adult perspective.

The US intends to pay more attention to cheder education, with joint vice-president Stephen Pack admitting: “It is true to say that for many years we’ve taken our eye off the ball.”

Chief executive Jeremy Jacobs unveiled his new top management. David Frei, registrar of the Beth Din, has become director of external and legal services. Rabbi Jeremy Conway heads kashrut and David Kaplan leads community services.

Ian Myers — like Mr Kaplan, a former Union of Jewish Students chair — will join the US in April as marketing and communications director.

Last updated: 3:01pm, March 19 2009