Listen, I love the idea of free Jewish education. (What, you think I wanted to teach Sunday school out of the goodness of my heart? I’ve since found out that free tuition isn’t even part of the deal, but I’ve already signed the contract. So the goodness of my heart it is.)
Anyhoo, every parent knows how the kvetch goes about the cost of private day school, but is a Jewish public school such a good idea? Some families in South Florida have gotten together to make it a reality, and the first day of classes at band new Ben Gamla is next week.
But wait, it’s not much like religious day school at all: Students will learn Hebrew, Jewish history and Jewish-related topics for two hours a day and eat kosher lunches (will the cafeteria lades wear shaygels and hairnets?) and but no Torah, no Talmud. Oh, and no Jewish symbolism like mogen davids or menorahs. But the charter school (a tax-funded, privately-managed educational institution) caters to a community with a large Israeli population, so a secular education is just what these families want.
I suppose if this was made available to my family, I’d give it a chance, but not without major reservations. Oy, it’s giving me a headache: How do you teach “Judaism” without religion, or at least a picture of a darn shofar? And if you do, why bother? And is it really possible to keep the lines of synagogue and state clear? As part of the public school system, won’t it have to give everyone Good Friday off? And don’t you agree that if a group of Christians wanted to open their own public school, we’d be storming around with our lawyers?
I guess I don’t how to feel about “culturally identified” schools that will obviously have so much fuzzy religious crossover. Blogger bud Schvach tipped me off to the Arab-themed charter school in NYC (hey, can’t wait to see their cheerleading uniforms!), and gosh, what a surprise, they’re having kind of hard time keeping the jihad out of the classroom. Does anyone really believe you can have an Arab- or a Jewish-themed school that teaches anything about the other objectively?
I admit to wishing there was free Jewish school here that will teach my kids Hebrew, but I have enough problems with a public Montessori that has mandated tests. It all just strikes me a baaad idea.
Tell me why you disagree.