This article originally appears in The Jewish Daily Forward on August 5, 2013.
Jordana Horn’s recent article asks the singular question, Who Says You Need Day School? The question is simple and so is the answer.
Nothing less than the future of the Jewish people rests on the existence of vibrant Jewish day schools. If we are to have a future as a people — we need day school!
In her piece, Horn discusses a spate of recent articles which lead her to conclude that: “I’m not against day school, per se. I just don’t think that day school is essential in order to raise children who are Jewish and proud to be Jewish. The “secret” to a successful Jewish life and future is not the “magic bullet” of day school attendance. The real secret lies in what could be called “Jewish homeschooling” — supplementing after-school Hebrew school (a necessity) with real and vibrant Jewish family life.”
Horn holds her family out as proof of the efficacy of her conclusion. Despite attending public/non-Jewish private schools in their youth she and her siblings have all in-married and are active and engaged Jewish adults. While this may be an interesting narrative, it’s anecdotal and has virtually no bearing on the crucial role of Jewish day schools to Jewish continuity. In other words, it worked out great for the Horns but does it have any meaning for the rest of us?
While I agree with Horn that there are many ways to raise an engaged, Jewish adult, I think it is reckless to dismiss day school attendance as simply not “essential.” While, I’m not arguing that day school is the panacea for everyone and I understand that there are a multitude of difficult issues surrounding affordability and accessibility, the bottom line is that Jewish day schools churn out future Jewish leaders in large numbers.
Read the rest of the article here.