Conflict and Compromise: Day School Parents Weigh In

By Ken Gordon

Published January 20, 2010, issue of January 29, 2010.
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Last year, I published an essay on MyJewishLearning.com called “Seize the Day School.” I worried about this essay. “Seize” spelled out, in great detail, my own ambivalences — note the plural — about sending my daughter to Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston. I feared that once the piece was published, her teachers might treat my little girl…differently; that the school moms would stop smiling at me and my wife; that our tuition bill would start growing exponentially.

My fears were unfounded.

In fact, people seemed to like the damned thing. The editor-in-chief of MyJewishLearning.com said that “Seize” “received a more impassioned response than almost all of our other articles.” The people at the school were jazzed, and I heard from a number of day school parents about it. Why? I think they were happy to see someone articulate his own nuanced feelings about Jewish education.

Clearly, there was a lot to say about day school, but only the rare opportunity for people to speak candidly in public. So after the story went live, I teamed up with the Project for Excellence in Jewish Education — you can call them PEJE — to get other people writing essays. The project produced a number of “Seize”-like pieces from a diverse group of authors, who had either attended, or who had kids in, day school.

The results were varied, stylish, thoughtful and honest. To wit:
In “Et Tu, Brute?” Michael “Mr. Yiddish” Wex waxes poetic about the immense value of his daughter’s Hebrew education. Joshua Halberstam, philosophy professor and author of the recent novel “A Seat at the Table” compares his severe yeshiva education to his kids’ more liberal day school lives. It’s funny. Interesting. And a little sad.

Have you got a day school story of your own? E-mail us at dayschools@forward.com to share your experience.


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