Jewish Education in the United States: Report of the Commission for the Study of Jewish Education in the United States - Vol. 1

Jewish Education in the United States: Report of the Commission for the Study of Jewish Education in the United States - Vol. 1

Jewish Education in the United States: Report of the Commission for the Study of Jewish Education in the United States - Vol. 1

Jewish Education in the United States: Report of the Commission for the Study of Jewish Education in the United States - Vol. 1

Excerpt

This report is, first, an attempt to present to American Jews a profile of Jewish education in the United States. In order to accomplish this purpose, a comprehensive and detailed national study had to be planned, conducted, and completed. The work took some seven years; but one might say it took several generations, for the American Jewish community had to achieve maturity first before it became aware of the need to launch the Jewish education study. "The man who is afraid of facts," it has been said, "does not believe in God." Jewish tradition and attitudes would support this assertion; and the American Jewish community, by seeking the facts reported in this study, affirm, by this act, the fact that we are not afraid of facts.

For it is only in the light of facts, in the light of knowledge, that value judgments and social policies can be properly formulated and their attainment sought and validated. The discovery and disclosure of facts may uncover failures and mistakes, but men of courage and faith shun citizenship in a fool's paradise.

Secondly, this document is a report to the American people in general, for they know nothing or little about the thousands of schools in which over a half million boys and girls are enrolled for a Jewish education. Not long ago, in a conversation with a Christian, I mentioned Jewish schools. "Jewish schools?" he asked in surprise. "What's a Jewish school? Where is there a Jewish school? I have seen Roman Catholic parochial schools, I know a good deal about them, but I never before heard of Jewish schools." I proceeded to tell him briefly about the great number and variety of schools devoted to Jewish education. It all sounded strange and seemed bewildering; but my friend became especially interested in the weekday Talmud Torah or congreational school which Jewish children attend after they leave SYSTEM school several afternoons a week. This struck him as an interesting example of how a minority group can adapt itself to conditions fixed by the community and yet, in the very process of adaptation, invent a way to sustain and perpetuate, at least in some measure, its own purposes, tradition, and values. "Why," he said, "do not American Jews see to it that this unique contribution to cultural and religious pluralism be made widely known?" We hope that this report will satisfy a general as well as a specifically Jewish need.

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