Jewish Education Pays Lifetime Dividends | Education
Education is one of the most important things a child can have. From learning shapes and colors in kindergarten to advanced science and math in college, a child’s education is good for their growth. But is there a way to integrate one’s religion – a very important aspect of life for many – into a mainstream school curriculum?
Rabbi Simcha Dessler, educational director at the Hebrew Academy of Cleveland in Cleveland Heights, and Dina Rock, director of learning at Temple-Tifereth Israel in Beachwood, said there are a few important reasons for incorporating learning Jewish in our daily life.
The Hebrew Academy of Cleveland, Ohio’s largest Jewish school, has welcomed generations of children from early childhood through high school. With a dual curriculum of Judaic studies and general college preparatory studies, students at the academy spend an average of 34 to 47 hours per week, depending on grade level, Dessler said.
“Plus, hundreds of kids are choosing to come back for more and take voluntary after-school extracurricular classes,” he said. “While Jewish school education has evolved over the decades, its goals of fostering a strong sense of Jewish identity and a commitment to Jewish continuity remain as strong as ever. “
Rock said her vision as the Director of Learning is to lay the foundation for learning about Jewish life. It’s not just an extracurricular activity or an extra activity, she said. Rock said she wanted to build a narrative at the Temple that focuses on lifelong learning.
Dessler said every facet of the Jewish day school experience incorporates values, concepts and ideas – all of which promote Jewish identity and continuity.
“We see Judaism not just as a religion, but as a way of life,” Dessler said. “Our goal is for children to develop a love for learning and for life, a love for Judaism and for Israel, a love for our people and for humanity.”
Dessler said enrichment and after-school programs, education and engagement in Israel, guest speakers, extra travel, Shabbatons, Jewish holiday celebrations, music, song and dance are all important. vehicles that improve basic education and allow students “more appreciation and awareness for their heritage.” He added that young children and adolescents should see their role in today’s modern world as it is – as links in the golden chain of Jewish heritage.
Rock said what’s really important is that learning inside the temple walls should also be relevant outside the temple walls. She said there has to be energy, commitment and connection with the world outside of where they are every day.
“It has to be relevant in their lives as they get older,” Rock said. “So having conversations about social justice, conversations about leadership, learning about our history and how our history impacts our present and influences our future, to learn more about all of that is very important. . “
Why is it so important to integrate Judaism into the daily school curriculum? Dessler said intensive Jewish education inspires commitment.
“Day school students are given a sense of priority, have a strong knowledge base and have a sense of choice,” said Dessler. “They graduate with options to pursue their chosen profession… not just as Jews, but as knowledgeable and broadly engaged Jews. It is the best investment in a strong and promising Jewish future.