By Craig Silver
July 10, 2008
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.