Why do you believe that Jewish day school education is important?
I believe that there are many reasons why Jewish day schools are important: because they teach history and cultivate Jewish identity; because they incubate critical thinking and cultivate respect for and knowledge of law, both Jewish and American; because Judaism is the foundation of Western civilization, especially in the development of our moral and ethical awareness; because learning Hebrew develops all the benefits that accrue to knowing a foreign language. Jewish education can connect children to their past and allow them to participate in conversations that have been going on for thousands of years. In turn and really most importantly, it gives young people the opportunity to pass along to their children the objectives, duties, and moral principles that have provided a purposefulness to our lives and that can show them the ways to be an integral part of this assigned task in perpetuity.
The following story pungently illustrates the virtues of integrity, honesty, and generational trust that Jewish education can transmit:
A bird once set out to cross a windy sea with its three fledglings. The sea was so wide and the wind so strong that the father bird was forced to carry his young, one by one, in his strong claws. When he was halfway across with the first fledgling, the wind turned to a gale, and he said, “My child, look how I am struggling and risking my life in your behalf. When you are grown up, will you do as much for me and provide for my old age?” The fledgling replied, “Only bring me to safety, and when you are old, I shall do everything you ask of me.” Whereat the father bird dropped his child in the sea and it drowned. He said, “So shall it be done to such a liar as you.” Then the father bird returned to shore, set forth with his second fledgling, and asked the same question. Upon receiving the same answer, he drowned the second child with the cry, “You too are a liar!” Finally, he set out with the third fledgling. When he asked the same question, the third and last fledgling replied, “My dear father, it is true you are struggling mightily and risking your life in my behalf, and I shall be wrong not to repay you when you are old, but I cannot bind myself. This, though, I can promise: when I am grown up and have children of my own, I shall do as much for them as you have done for me.” Whereupon the father bird said, “Well spoken, my child, and wisely. Your life I will spare and I will carry you to shore in safety.”
I have sat on the boards of nonprofits at the national and local level. I have worked in the educational field for the past 14 years, including being a board member of Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE) in Kentucky and founding the University of Louisville’s annual college fair. My experience has involved all the major aspects of board work, such as strategic planning, fundraising, and evaluating grant proposals. Additionally, having started and run my own business gave me the savvy to understand how organizations can be sustainable and well run.
My main strength lies in taking complex situations and simplifying them by asking focused questions. The answers that the Board comes up with give direction to the Board’s work.
One of my favorite poems, Emma Lazarus’s famous “The New Colossus,” engraved on the pedestal beneath the Statue of Liberty, summarizes the mission of Jewish education in America:
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame / With conquering limbs astride from land to land; / Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand / A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame / Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name / Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand / Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command / The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. / “Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she / With silent lips. ”Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, / The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. / Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, / I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
As American Jews, our missions as Americans and as Jews go hand-in-hand and fully complement each other. The values of our tradition inspire us in all the work we do both within the Jewish community and beyond, to our fellow countrymen. Jewish day schools give our students the grounding in Jewish knowledge that they will take with them wherever they go, whatever they do. ♦
Each fall, the seventh grade students in my Jewish social studies class begin the year by participating in the Jewish Court of All Time online simulation. JCAT is an innovative learning adventure that is a joint venture between the University of Cincinnati’s...[More]
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