Succeeding at Jewish Education: How One Synagogue Made it Work

By Joseph Reimer | Go to book overview

Chapter 5
The "Mandatory Hebrew" Controversy

At this point we turn to examine the place of the school within the synagogue community; for little of significance takes places within the school that is not influenced by larger trends within the life of the congregation.

The focus of this chapter is on the "mandatory Hebrew" controversy that erupted in the middle of the school year at Temple Akiba. This controversy had its origins in a decision made by the Religious School Committee (RSC), a lay body charged with the responsibility for setting educational policy for the religious school. Working closely with Rabbi Marcus, this committee decided after much deliberation to make the learning of Hebrew a mandatory requirement for all the students in the religious school. When their decision ran into fierce, unforeseen parental opposition, these lay leaders had to decide how to respond to the opposition. The decisions they made in consultation with Rabbi Marcus -- as well as the process they used to arrive at them -- are the focus of this chapter.

The "mandatory Hebrew" controversy followed by one month the family education program described in Chapter 2. Viewed in retrospect, the two appear to have a strong connection. Both may be described as social dramas, and both illustrate the importance of social drama within the life of the congregation. But the "mandatory Hebrew" controversy was larger in scope, since it involved Rabbi Marcus, the members of the RSC, the protesting parents, and, peripherally, the board of the synagogue. In full it extended over a period of several months. Yet, it may be surprising to see how much overlap there is between these two dramas.

-133-

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Succeeding at Jewish Education: How One Synagogue Made it Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Chapter 1 - The Educating Synagogue 1
  • Chapter 2 - Educating the Adults 29
  • Chapter 3 - The Temple Akiba School 71
  • Chapter 4 - A Close Look At Classroom Learning 101
  • Chapter 5 - The "Mandatory Hebrew" Controversy 133
  • Chapter 6 - Synagogue Drama And Education 163
  • Notes 187
  • Glossary 199
  • Selected Bibliography 201
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