Is there something wrong with today’s Jewish education?


By Craig Silver
July 10, 2008
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Since joining the JC almost a year ago now I realise that my knowledge of Jewish sayings, words and portions have been heavily increased, mainly thanks to a certain Comments Editor. However, it does make me wonder: why wasn’t I given a better grounding of Jewish education in high school?

From 11 to 18, I attended King Solomon in Essex. To be honest though, we only had one or two Jewish studies classes a week. I remember that not many students took them seriously. But we were always there, on time for our scheduled hour a week. That’s right, just one hour a week.

I find myself lacking a lot of Jewish knowledge. For example, only a few months ago I found out what the word ‘nu’, a commonly used saying, meant. I had no idea. This was met with absolute shock from some of my colleagues. 

But to be honest I don’t believe this to be my fault. Some classes at school consisted of just showing videos of ‘The Prince of Egypt’ to explain the story of Chanukah. I mean, come on. At least make us watch three hours of Charlton Heston in the Ten Commandments rather than a Disney animated film.

This trend continues with “just read chapter nine in your Jewish studies books.” As if any teenager would do that!

One class I remember and laugh was when a video was shown of former students re-enacting the moment when God asked Abraham to kill his son Isaac. As you can imagine the acting was terrible and, as a result, you didn’t learn much at all.

The point is that I can see now that the seriousness of the class was very poor. You didn’t feel the importance of Judaism. I hope things have changed.

I obviously can’t speak for other Jewish schools like JFS. My 11-year old brother goes to Clore Tikva School and is clearly showing a lot of interest in Judaism and knows most of the prayers off by heart. Like he should.

I just wonder now if the Jewish Schools are demonstrating the importance of teaching students about the history and traditions. Because I have certainly realised that I’ve learnt a lot more in the short time I’ve been here.

COMMENTS

Helen Feld

Tue, 07/15/2008 - 18:25

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Once you are determined to learn you will learn very quickly and make up for lost time. When groups like Aish and JLE are successful in schools like JFS they are viciously criticised by parents who object to their children taking Judaism seriously.

tarbut

Thu, 08/07/2008 - 19:38

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One hour a week ?Whoops, where were you the other two lessons ?

Polina

Thu, 12/04/2008 - 17:02

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Craig Silver thanks for you article. Nice photo :)

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