Home » Community Life, Jonathan Schauder, Recent Posts

The Free Jewish Education Movement has Begun

August 9, 2011 – 6:09 pm69 Comments

With the cost of the private Jewish school becoming increasingly unaffordable, Jonathan Schauder presents an example of a plan to provide better Jewish education in a state school.

Glen Eira College – Australia’s First Jewish State School?
The Free Jewish Education Movement has Begun!

Over the past few decades Jewish Education has become synonymous with private schooling. There are so many good reasons for this to have happened: environmental, community, political, cultural, historical, and demographic factors have all played their part. But you know what, the politics has changed, the times have changed and the community has changed!

And so the theory about Jewish Education has already started changing too.

Glen Eira College will be a school where Jews go over the next decade, it is unavoidable: a perfect location for a wide range of the community, under-enrolled, no zoning to speak of, and outstanding, brand-new facilities and programs. Jews will go there.

But surely we, the generation of leaders, parents and grandparents who have the capacity to take control of this destiny understand that now is the time for a more proactive, unified and deliberate approach to creating Melbourne’s first Jewish State school.

Everyone I speak to can see it is a no brainer – from Rabbis to new immigrants, from Chabad to Mizrachi, from those that care, to those that haven’t really thought it through. The call to action is clear. Make Glen Eira College not only a school for Jews, but put in place sufficient structures and systems, values and vision that the community will have a new Jewish State School!

And the strategy is so simple (see suggested timeline below):

1. Get the community excited, give Glen Eira College a Jewish brand.

2. Get Jewish kids going there!

3. Get VCE Judaism and Society introduced as a mainstream subject choice.

4. Create internal and external structures and services to deliver the full gamut Jewish values and Hebrew language options, leading to the introduction of VCE Hebrew. (There are over 20 Jewish studies and Hebrew learning type services around the immediate school location).

5. And have all of that managed and administered from a central Jewish Culture services office to ensure the kids are getting the best services, the right mixes and a well designed progression over the 6 years.

Herzl said, if you will it, it is no dream! Well no one is dreaming here. This strategy is ready to go – here today and the path is clear.

The waters of the sea are parting and the Jewish community can choose to take the path to liberate themselves from the extraordinary, wonderful and yet limiting Jewish Private School centred model that we have so desperately and deliberately created over the past 60 years.

So what is the call to action? Simple.

Tell everyone you know, and anyone who asks (forward them a link to this article!) –

“Did you know that there will be a Jewish State School in Melbourne?”

“Yes, really, Glen Eira College on the corner of Neerim and Kambrook Roads!”

“Will it service all Jews: liberal, orthodox and other?”

“Yes, finally the revolution has come to bring the mainstream community together to bridge the gap in how inexpensive, high quality Jewish identity can be achieved for all children and for all families!”

“How do I get involved?”

“Tell everyone, to send their kids there, to ask more questions, to contact the Principal and Education Minister, to tell your Rabbi to support the concept, tell your community organisations to become part of the movement.” And do it now!

All the factors are in place, all the people are willing, and all the strategic forces are aligned. The waters have parted. Start walking! No, start running!


  • Change  in community perception of school brand
  • Community Groundswell!
  • A community decision is made to target this school as our community school.


  • Syllabus design and changes and establishing a Jewish Central Office
  • VCE Religion and Society (Judaism focus) introduced
  • Get all interested services on board to collaborate to provide the full range of Jewish activities before and after school hours


  • Internal systems and structural changes to enable in-school learning and activities
  • First cohort of VCE Religion and Society students sit the exam.


  • Work with the school community to design an enduring identity progression and context at the school
  • Achieve a School top 20 set of VCE results


  • Consolidate and confirm the school’s place in the centre of Jewish growth, continuity and community lif

Jonny Schauder is one of Melbourne’s leading consultants in the area of Change Management, High Performing Teams and Leadership. He is a Psychologist and has lectured on Negotiation and Influence in the Monash Business School MBA, and is managing director of The Change Agent Network.

Print Friendly


  • Mandi Katz says:

    HI Jonny – this is very interesting.

    How well is it aligned with the Vic Department of Education practice and policy?

    What do you envisage when you say that parents could influence syllabus design and change by 2012? Is there a precedent/model for this in Victoria?

    Not saying its impossible – just wondering what research has been done into how possible it is…

  • Jonny says:

    Hi Mandi
    Thanks for your immediate response!
    This is not calling for Jewish exclusivity at the school -not by a long shot- simply good design for the needs of all in a structured way.
    Every State school has the obligation of servicing its community groups. This idea is a simple extension of that.

    At the same time, David Southwick is the Minister right now, so who knows what the ideas might be. And of course all State Schools are ultimately run by their Volunteer School Boards. They are Boards specifically put in place to keep the Principal and curriculum in check for the School community on behalf of the Department.

    Anecdotally there are already Jewish families on the Board of GEC, the the School Board has all the powers required to shift curriculum and structures in the School.

    All the best


  • Philip Mendes says:

    very interesting piece. Everybody knows that all the Jewish schools – bar Shalom Aleichem – cater for an upper middle-class constituency, yet a significant number of Jews don’t fall into that category. So those schools provide bursaries to appear inclusive, but in reality it is hard for kids from middle and working class backgrounds to fit in with peers who have overwhelmingly different life experiences and values. I have been saying for years that we need to look at and learn from the Catholic school system. They have elitist schools like Xavier for those who can afford, and equally many other Catholic schools for the less affluent. Ideally, it would be good to have a Jewish state school like the Jewish Free School in London. But in the interim, a Jewish school that is affordable to all would be a good start.


  • Fantastic idea! At present there is a huge gap (in terms of the Jewish education) between Jewish private schools and the options available to parents who choose to send their kids elsewhere (UJEB, Lamdeni, etc). Something like this will put some more options in that gap, and get all the existing players in that market some food for thought.

  • Annette says:

    Hi Jonny

    If you are not already familiar with it, you may be interested in the French program at Caulfield Junior College (formerly Caulfield North Primary School). There, French-speaking children do half their learning in French, taught by French teachers. These children now make up about 50% of the school population.

  • Jonny says:

    Hi Everyone, thanks Annette, David and Philip

    A quick update on all sorts of issues raised witrh me today by lots of enthusiastic people:

    1. The Catholic systems and the Jewish Free School models are too complicated to duplicate for so many reasons. To be frank, when you explore these models you realise they were establish on such anomolous grounds that to try to replicate is just too difficult. My personal view is that both models distract us from a simple answer of “take over a state secondary school”.

    2. Another movement contacted me today to suggest the reverse model: a Jewish School that becomes State Funded. Great idea. Wow! And whilst talking through it – it feels the process to make it happen is close to impossible until a Jewish School makes it clear that it will be shutting its doors but for a new funding model.

    3. There are lots of other ifs and buts and ideas but let’s be clear: Australia works on Democratic lines – if you can build enough support, you can get whatever you want. We simply need a majority Jewish School Board at GEC and the School is “Jewish”. What that means in practice is for that Board to decide. But we, we lucky few that care enough to stand up, must tell everyone to make it happen! As of today, the School is Jewish! Especially for the Israeli, Russian and South African Communities in South Caulfield, Bentleigh and Moorabbin. Decide it’s our school. Flood the School. Then we’ll get the structures right.

    4. The North Caulfield French model was borne and continues along similar lines – the majority ruled?. Anecdotally, the Jewish Studies program offered at North Caulfield was inspired by the wife of the Principal-of-the day to respond to community need. I have less interest in the Primary system but why the Jewish communities in Gardenvale, South and North Caulfield haven’t taken over their School Boards perplexes me. The same with Mckinnon at secondary level!

    Keep telling everyone – spreading the word. In under 2 years the change will come!

    All the best


  • ariel says:

    It sounds like a great idea, but it would be limited by the separation of church and state.

    How about the JCCV and NSWJBD etc under ECAJ setting up a trust fund to make Jewish private education only cost a couple of hundred dollars a year for most, with only the top 1-2% of wealthy families paying full fees of $20-30,000?

  • frosh says:

    Ariel, I don’t think that model would be economically viable. The numbers don’t add up. A few percent of parents paying full fees, and the rest paying a small fraction of that will leave a massive and ongoing shortfall to be made up for by private philanthropy.

    We need to move beyond a system relying so heavily on private philanthropy. Furthermore, think of the opportunity cost that comes from the massive amounts put into funding the Jewish private school system.

    With the state-school scheme, parents could contribute a small percentage of what they would have otherwise paid on private school to a fund that goes towards extra-curricular Jewish education/activities

  • R B says:

    The nine days are over, and this article is a good reason to say: SheHecheyanu.
    I hope that such a school will also attract Israeli families, most of which send their kids to public schools, both because of the high costs and the atmosphere there.

  • Ari says:

    In the current state of affairs I think that this idea presents an interesting direction to be pursued for the benefit of more Jewish children receiving some kind of Jewish education. If I lived in Australia, given the current state of Jewish education I might consider it.
    However, perhaps the current state of affairs needs to be re-examined. Unfortunately, I think most parents and perhaps even some schools view Jewish education as a means of preserving Jewish continuity and little else. There is not a real drive to see Jewish kids have a thorough Jewish education. Throw in a little Jewish History, Hebrew(of course), some subjects on the Holocaust and Zionism, and a little bit of other stuff and most importantly get them to meet other Jews – is about the bottom line of Jewish education in Australia. In such a reality, what difference does it make if those ‘minor’ subjects are taught at a day school or a public school, especially if they meet other Jews in the process. And we could always do the informal stuff outside of schools.

    But, perhaps this is the wrong way of thinking about Jewish education. Our people have been creating since the days of the Bible, they have thought and written and argued and have developed magnificent systems of Jewish Law, thought and values. They have composed major works of Jewish literature that are studied in Universities around the globe. They have composed books of the Bible, compiled the Mishna, the Gemarra, secular medieval Poetry, Piyutim the Moreh Nevuchim, the Shulchan Aruch, the Tanya, Chorev, Der Judenstaat, Tmol Shilshom just to name the most minor of smatterings. Any section of this literature takes a lifetime to master and yet most students emerge from the vast majority of Jewish day schools(Orthodox or not) without barely beginning any of it all, without even able to name authors at the least – and more importantly, without really caring to. Mainly because, in the current state of affairs, there are other commitments, other subjects to be learnt, matriculation grades to be received worthy of the hundreds of thousands of dollars poured into education. In the mind of the community today(most religious and most secular), the Jewish stuff can be taken care of with an hour a day or so as long as there is a Jewish environment and they meet Jewish friends. This can be done at a state school!
    What cannot be done at a state school, is to spend 4-5 hours every day of highschool(including VCE!!) immersed in the Jewish texts that have made our people who we are today, learning skills of how to approach the different Jewish texts, from Bible to Mishna to Jewish thought to modern Israeli literature. Not a Jewish civilisation course but a serious course in Jewish scholarship. Perhaps then will future generations, growing up deeply immersed in Jewish culture, go out of their way to marry Jews whether they’re at school in Burwood, Glen Eira or Wagga Wagga.
    However, such a model is dependant, on a shift in how the community approaches Jewish education.
    What I present above is not a model that is only for the religious – in my mind there are many texts that can and should be taught to non-religious students aswell. If it is good enough for a secular professor of Talmud, it’s good enough for secular students in Australia. Such non-religious schools exist elsewhere in the Jewish world.

  • Roger b says:

    French is a language, Judaism is a religion. Religion is a private matter and ought never be tought in schools except with historical / social perspective.

  • Wolf says:

    Roger B,

    As a religious Jew, living in a secular, democratic society, I agree with you. However, I don’t think it’s fair that Jewish parents paying school fees for Jewish schools should also pay tax to public schools. It should be one or the other.

    The rationale for making a government funded ‘Jewish School’ is that there are so many Jewish parents paying tax for public schools that they could band together and essentially use their tax money to start their own Jewish school. After all isn’t the tax meant to be spent in a way that pleases the tax payers?

  • Roger b says:

    We all contribute over $7 billion p/a to private school funding, and more to public schools. You best hope the government doesn’t get “fair” with it’s funding. As an atheist, I am opposed to the over $30 billion dollars of tax exemptions and grants that are given to religious organizations and the unfair competitive advantage their commercial operations (including schools) have.
    What has been proposed is that we taxpayers should fund an exclusive (on the grounds of religion) school. Various private schools perform this task, and for good reason, they are not public schools where you may not discriminate against people on the basis of their beliefs!

  • ariel says:

    frosh et al,
    I suppose it depends what one envisions from this Jewish school.
    If it is to be of a similar curriculum to say, Scopus or Moriah, I don’t think people would be happy for their taxes to go to a school which has shacharit as part of its daily schedule.

    I found this on wheretoschool.com.au:
    “Catholic Schools work hard to provide a Catholic education predominately to co-educational schools spread evenly across each state. These schools are generally subsidised by the Government and fees are lower. Most Catholic schools belong to a system or diocese. Catholic Schools that are government subsidised are referred to as systemic.”

    Would the Australian public agree to a similar Jewish school/s?

  • Roger b says:

    As long as they are PRIVATE schools, you may educate YOUR children as you see fit, and the rest of us will be forced to pay for it until we have a real and proper separation of church and state where all are equal and religious indoctrination occurs outside school hours, rather than being complicity funded by the state. For the sake of clarity, I hold this view for ALL religious involvement in education, I am not singling out Judaism.

  • Rachel SD says:

    I think that what is being proposed isn’t to offer religious education in a state school: it’s to offer Hebrew (a language) and Religion and Society (which is basically a course in comparative religion, it’s about religion, not educating children to be religious). Anything more religious would be an extra-curricular, private activity run out of school hours. It certainly isn’t exclusive.

    If I’ve misinterpreted, then that is at least what I think *should* be proposed.

  • Jonny says:

    Thanks Rachel
    You are spot on.
    The article isn’t inteded to be at all controversial.
    I very much appreciate the clarity of your summary.
    I’m suggesting that the State School remains a State School, but that all the academic options are properly explored. The only novelty in my idea here is to coordinate the effort so that parents can give their children a mix of options that suits their needs.

  • Roger b says:

    I would fully support your right to teach Hebrew as a language option within a public school. I am not familiar with the religion in society class, but doubt it comes without a bias etc. I would again state that religion should be kept out of schools. If you feel there is a demand, perhaps you could start an extra curricular class, even use the school hall? That way the children who are not adherents to the teachers religion simply don’t attend.

  • Jonny says:

    If anyone would like to understand the Religion in Society subject please see.


    Roger the subject would have to be a choice of the student.

  • What if the (Jewish) parent body (and therefore the school board) want religious education for their children at the school? e.g. more than the 30 mins per week that UJEB do?

  • ariel says:

    Roger B,

    I agree somewhat with your sentiments, hence I propose a private trust fund to pay for Jewish school education for those who can’t afford it.

    As it stands, contrary to the popular belief, most Jewish families who choose to send their children to private Jewish schools are not all millionaires, but are simple middle class folk, many doing it tough. Why?
    Because they spend $20-30,000 per year, per child at the Jewish schools. There is a valid arguement that they should get something from the government to facilitate their choice to do so, otherwise only the Packers would be able to afford private education.

    I would also say that I’m ashamed that private schools of *any* persuasion received money under the BER…

  • Roger b says:

    SECULAR public education. Enough said.

  • Roger b says:

    My understanding is that private Jewish schools do receive federal funding just like the other religious schools (over 7 billion p/a). So if your schools are charging so much more than other private schools, I’d be asking them why?

  • Jonny says:

    Hi David
    the model will work for more religious people.
    Assuming the Jewish academic and language work is in school hours. The religious activites are at the start and end of the day. Eg a Shacharit club, then you have all but replicated a Scopus model where a child does 2 hours of Jewish studies a day plus extra curricula.

  • Ariel,

    There was talk of some kind of communal endowment fund that subsidized Jewish education for everyone but it never got past an idea. I recall it needing to be at least $500m to be effective.

  • Deborah Stone says:

    Jonny, thank you for proposing this model. I think the language about “taking over” the school is unfortunate. What this is really about is focusing the community of interest on a particular school instead of having Jewish kids scattered through many state schools and therefore unable to access certain education options. GEC is located in an area with a significant demographic who share culture/ethnicity (let’s keep religion out of it)and would like to give their children education on some aspects of that culture within the context of state schooling. If enough Jewish kids attend the school and a significant chunk of them want Hebrew as their LOTE or R & S as a humanities option, the school will offer them just as it would offer Korean or Dance if the demand was there. Similarly if there was demand for after hours,clubs-based activities (Jewish festival celebration, Jewish music, text-study) these could be arranged. Non-Jewish students would be free to attend too, of course.

  • TheSadducee says:

    David W

    Surely your family has a spare $500 million to spare? :)

  • Wolf says:

    Roger b,
    I think you’re totally missing the point. If you want to send your child to a private school, then you must STILL pay in your taxes for a public schooling too! So in effect, you’re paying two sets of school fees. It should be one way or the other!

  • Daniel Levy says:

    This is easily one of the dumbest ideas I have ever heard. If I were still involved with Glen Eira college, I would be even more horrified than I currently am.

    You are proposing to take over a SECULAR public school and transform it into a Jewish school?

    Are you out of your mind?

    Get your religious indoctrination away from children. You sicken me.

  • ariel says:


    Do you say the same about public schools in Sydney where the local population has become predominantly Muslim and now the PUBLIC schools celebrate Eid and offer Religious Studies (Islam topic focus) as an official subject due to 80% of the school body wanting it?

  • Wolf says:

    Daniel Levy,

    Let’s say you’re right? Let’s say that secular government funded schools should be just that (which I would personally agree with). If this is the case, then why should hard working parents that are already paying private school fees ALSO pay tax to public schools?

    Conversely, if they are paying tax to a public school system and sending their child to a public school, then why shouldn’t they have a democratic right to express their opinion about the way in which their tax money is to be spent in the school they send their child?

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Ariel, of course I do. Two wrongs don’t make a right. That sort of reasoning is childish and ridiculous.

    Glen Eira college is a proudly secular school. For you to go to it and sort of will yourself onto it with your agenda to “brand” it with a Jewish image is nothing short of shocking.

    Wolf, how unsurprising that the religious leader so obsessed with money is now trying to evade his taxes.

    You’ve never used 90% of the roads in Australia, yet your tax dollars went into maintaining them.

    Your taxes funded a little child’s open heart surgery. Your tax dollars funded the welfare of a bum who maybe didn’t really deserve it, and your tax dollars went towards an F16 fighter jet currently streaming over the gulf.

    Our taxes go everywhere. We don’t just pick and choose the services that we only use ourselves. If we did that, then everything would be sorely lacking and our healthcare system would resemble the shambles that exists in America.

    Because somebody ELSE funded your medicare bills. Somebody ELSE’s taxes went into building the roads that you use on your daily commute. Somebody ELSE’s taxes paid fo the myriad other things you receive. So stop it with this selfish ‘ME ME ME ME ME’ attitude you have going and start realising that in a social democracy like Australia, we all have that collective responsibility to ensure the high quality of welfare that exists for every citizen in this country. And if you’re unhappy with that fact, there are PLENTY of countries with very low tax rates you could emigrate to. But unsurprisingly, and correlatively have a disgustingly poor standard of living.

  • letters in the age says:

    Well said Phillip Mendes on the socio-demographics of the parent body in the jewish school day system..

    Polarising isn’t it?

    That’s the choice of parents as well.

    Great piece .

  • Deborah Stone says:

    There are all sorts of problems with the economic demands of private Jewish schooling but the social problems Phillip describes are not inevitable. Having observed kids at King David from kinder through to Yr 12 it certainly isn’t true to say kids from disadvantaged families on scholarships or bursaries don’t fit in. The social groups are the same as any school (cool kids, nerds, jocks whatever) but bear no relationship to whether you live in a posh house in Armadale or a rented flat in Bentleigh.

  • Letters in the age says:

    Interesting observations, i also observed and saw ethnocentric behavior which is not mentioned .

    The Slap on the a.b.c would be ideal viewing as it focuses on the ethnic middle class that also pertains to members of the Jewish Community as well.

    One to watch out for peeps despite Julie Szego’s negative critique of it.

  • Jonny says:


    Thanks so much for your earlier, very clear, re-articulation of the main elements of this proposal. You are spot on! And the language I used about “take over” I agree was not appropriate or accurate. I withdraw it. It is too simplistic. If anyone was offended I apologise. Take over is not the correct term.

    It is about getting families involved in leading their school community to achieve better outcomes that matter to them.

    Deborah, you are spot on that the key is a focused effort in a location of high demographic need to yield better results than a scattered approach. It will also enable all sorts of bodies to collaborate more effectively to support the kids.

    To reassure Daniel, Roger, Ari and others, participation in all the described processes and activities would be entirely voluntary. I think that’s what’s exciting!! Everyone will find interest in the language and comparative subjects. But in a well corrdinated system, Liberal kids could access Liberal programs, Orthodox kids could access programs designed for them. If you want to study ancient texts, we’ll find you a mentor! Aesthiest kids could just take a healthy look into what it’s all about and make their own life decisions based what they see or learn.

    At the end of the day all great education is about choices, passion, identity, meaning and enthusism. While we act as a confused community all pulling in different directions all of those factors are limited. A unified and focused approach, catering for all who wish to be catered for, and respecting those who wish to stay out of it, will change the face of the Melbourne Jewish community for the better.

  • ariel says:


    Wolf is right – people who earn $100K/year and pay $20K/year for private school should not have to pay also for public school so that someone who earns $1M/year can send their child to oublic school for free.

    If the parent decided to switch their child to a public school, then they should pay the relevant tax.

    Similarly, those of us with private health cover should not have to also pay the Medicare levy, for the same reasons.

    If you want social democracy, it means the wealthy pay full fees and then the rest pay what they can afford on a sliding scale from 90% of fees down to zero.

    In other words, if the Packers want to sent their children to PUBLIC schools, they should still pay $20K/year. That would inject much needed funding to the school and help out those who can’t afford the fees.

    Roads are a different story: I don’t drive on most Federal highways, but at least I know they’re there for me to use when I go on holidays.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Ariel, what you’re describing is full on Socialism. An extremely flawed system of governance.

    My argument stands. You have done nothing to advance yours other than saying “Why should I pay taxes? :(:(:(”

    Taxes – the price of a civilied society, diddums.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    I missed the last sentence of your post but it characterises your stance beautifully:

    “Roads are a different story: I don’t drive on most Federal highways, but at least I know they’re there for me to use when I go on holidays.”

    You are an extremely selfish person. You’re only interested in what you can extract from the government. That’s not very Judaic. where’s your Tzedaka?

    The welfare of all Australian citizens is the bedrock of what makes Australia great, and if you don’t want to buy into that, as I offered Wolf, there are many countries which offer extremely low (sometimes zero) taxrates. But the standard of living in those countries is exceedingly poor and it’s usually precisely because of that reason.

  • ariel says:


    You make clear your naivety in presuming the government will spend your tzedakah gelt where it’s needed most.

    The Nevi’im never extolled us to give our money to the government; they extolled us to give it DIRECTLY to the poor – hence I give tzedaka as much as I can.

    The equation taxes = tzedakah is flawed on so many levels…

    And what I describe is not Socialism, it is socially equitable economics. The difference between the two is that in the latter, you’re allowed to vote, protest and dissend. In the former you get sent to a far away “retraining camp” for not towing the line…

  • Jonny says:

    David, Frosh
    What was the reation to the article at the meeting last night?
    When you get a chance can you share some observations?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Daniel – the word you may be looking for is tzedek, not tzedakah.

    Tzedakah is more like charity – tzedek is more like justice – not only in legal sense but in a social justice sense.

    And you are quite right Judaism modelled the equitable distribution of wealth. The Romans for example were great at roads (to use the exmaple cited here) but equitable distribution of wealth, not so much.

    But yes I agree it is an odd idea of how taxes work, that we should only pay for the bits that might directly or indirectly us.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Well there you get your answer, Ariel. I am not naive. I am under no delusion (unlike you, believing without fact, rhyme nor reason that your personal sky fairy is god almighty) that the government spends the tax money 100% efficiently.

    No governmental system. The answer to that is not to pay taxes, nor to whinge about paying taxes. It is to democratically (using your votes, your arguments etc.) determine ways to more efficiently fund the system.

    Wolf is just whinging that he has to pay taxes so other kids can learn. Similarly, so were you. Instead, if you really had people’s best interests at heart, you’d be talking about how to better spend money on schools. Or on different programs that get better results etc.


  • Daniel Levy says:

    er, no government system is perfect*

  • letters in the age says:

    I wonder what that Ted et al guy would think of this argument?(yuck)

    I refuse to even mention his name on this wonderful blog but can someone please shed some light on this jewish extremist that i keep trying to avoid reading on the a.b.c?

  • Jo S says:

    Every child in Australia is entitled to education and every parent has the right to choose the type of education their child receives. Whether you go to public school or state school your child is entitled to an equal share of the education dollar. The Australian govt and tax payer gets off ar least 5 billion dollars cheaper because kids use the private system. If the private system shut, At least $5 billion extra would be needed to fund the extra kids in the state school system. I choose schooling that is culturally and religiously appropriate for my children. I am happy to pay extra for this but the cost of private Jewish education is excessive. Either bring on the no frills school or a good quality public school that offers extra curricular Jewish studies. State schools must stay secular to cater to all. BUT, schools need to tailor for thier communities and there is lots of scope for adapted curricula, subject variety and extra curricula activities. Bring on Glen Eira college. My kids can ride to school! Way to go Jonny!

  • Jonny says:

    Well said Jo!
    Thanks for the thoughful comment!
    If you have any other ideas to help spread the concept let me know!

  • Philip Mendes says:

    letters in the age re: lapkin – see my Facebook page as per below

    Interesting to read Ted Lapkin’s call for an end to the welfare state in The Drum online today.


    In his previous job with a Jewish community organisation, Mr Lapkin always seemed to have a violent hatred for the moderate Jewish Left. Some of us wondered at the time whether this was the result of a broader far Right agenda on his part. Seems we were right after all.

  • Jonny says:

    This article suggests all the reasons why we need to act urgently on this direction.


    In the not too distant future, GEC will become less accessible for change…

  • letters in the age says:

    Many Thanks Phillip, greatly appreciated Sir!!!!

  • ariel says:


    I don’t know who this sky fairy is. Sounds like something out of Harry Potter…

    And the reason I (or many others on this page) shouldn’t have to pay for someone else’s education is that we’re struggling to pay for our own.

    The tax free threshold should be lifted to $50K. There are plenty of ppl on such a salary struggling to make ends meet and are in need of tzedakah as much as the next person.

  • letters in the age says:

    Here’s my gorgeous Natalie on her schooling.(link below)


    Natalie Portman on Education.

    On being engaged in Middle East politics

    “I think I was really, really involved [in Middle East politics] when I was in my early 20s. I was reading Haaretz every day. It was the website I opened to on my computer and would read obsessively. I was very passionate and very emotionally aroused from it and then I had to disconnect from it. I barely pay attention anymore — I know it’s not necessarily the proudest thing to say, because I know it’s important to be engaged — but it can get so hard to feel that emotional about something you have no impact on.”

    On the Holocaust

    “I remember it being a prominent feature of my education because I went to Jewish Day School until I was 13. We moved a lot so I went to different schools in Maryland and then Connecticut and then Long Island, so it was just such a central part of our learning — of everything we learned. You can understand the power of memory of the Jewish people but also there’s the drawbacks, too. Because no one mentioned Rwanda to us, which was happening at the same time — which is kind of an interesting thing, which I regret and I wish was different.”

    On going to Harvard University to major in psychology

    “I’ve been acting since I was 11. I’ve gotten to have so many amazing experiences and work with so many amazing people that it’s been sort of a school for me. Having the opportunity to go to university, … [I realized that] I wanted to take advantage of everything I could. And psychology seemed also a way where I could learn things that would be eventually helpful to my acting career without actually taking acting classes.”

    Stay safe Heebs;)

  • Any other SUggestions says:


    Without commenting in the specifics of your proposal I want to commend you for addressing what is a very pressing issue for the community.

    Does anyone else have any other suggestions – related or unrelated to Jonathan’s idea – as to how to address the issue of Jewish Day Schools?

  • Any other SUggestions says:

    To clarify my previous post, I mean issues relating to Jewish Day Schools from an affordability and/or financial viability perspective.

  • frosh says:

    Read Yoram Symons’ article here.

    And read the comments below that article on how Yoram’s plan could be in synergy with Jonny’s plan.

  • Rachel SD says:

    The comments seem to have gone a bit off track here into taxation…which I think is a bit beside the point.

    I think this is a great idea though I agree with Deborah about the description.

    In my opinion Hebrew language is the only part of Jewish education that is hard to teach outside of the school environment. Everything else could happen between home, youth movement and shul. (With perhaps some extra before or after-school programs.)

    Great way of making Jewish education accessible, and to me it’s an added bonus that the school would be much more diverse than the Jewish day schools.

  • Rachel SD says:

    I forgot to add that as far as I’m aware there are already public (Primary) schools in Sydney teaching Hebrew LOTE, and I think Caulfield North Primary School may also have a Hebrew program though perhaps that is before school? Does anyone know about those?

  • Jonny says:

    Rachel, again you’ve brought this dialogue helpfully back on
    track! Thank you.
    You and I are on the same page about the wonderful
    My goal for this year is to get the community excited about the
    opportunities of this model.

    I’m hoping that the Hebrew and Religion subjects could become
    proper electives in year 8 building to VCE. More than LOTE, I think the school
    board could effectively enable a stream of elective subjects, that properly build
    skills, philosophy, knowledge and identity. Add the extra curricula options and it’s a great model. I also agree that there are huge advantages of being in a wide ranging
    cultural community where being Jewish is special.

    Rachel any other ideas for publicising or sharing the ideas?

  • rivqa says:

    Just thought I’d chime in with the real-life experience of a child in one of the Sydney schools Rachel mentions. My daughter is in Year K (Prep) and does Hebrew twice a week and Jewish “scripture” once a week. JETS (BJE program) is offered 1-2 mornings a week. Their progress in Hebrew is pretty slow (although her accent isn’t bad) and scripture is very light on. (I’m not a big supporter of compulsory religious studies within public school, but that’s a different debate — we’re lucky to have a school that offers a Jewish option, at least). Everything else comes from home.

    She is “behind” in Jewish education compared to what I received at Beth Rivkah, but it’s what works for our family and there’s plenty of time to catch up — if there was a better range of options in the community that would be nice.

  • Jonny says:

    Thanks Rivqa
    The movement in primary school level options has been progressing well.
    Of course in Primary there is no such thing as “elective subjects” so there is little chance we can change the in-school hours options with regard to Hebrew or Judaism unless a school uses their LOTE option for Hebrew.
    In secondary it is a whole other ball game with elective subjects being the choice of the school as long as it can fill and fund them.
    I think this is the great opportunity.

    I predict that in Primary level, the options for out of school hours (modern Chader) will increase… I am chairman of a local offering called Spiritskool in collaboration with Spiritgrow… and we provide a whole range of religious and culture exposure activities including aleph yoga, meditation, and cooking and so on… things that I would never have experienced in my Jewish schooling experience… So all that is positive I think.

    The next generation of these programs will be better than the last, and then better again. And given that many Jewish kids are now in public schools, the socialisation question is less important. Over time, I see it as the preferred Jewish model for those Jewish families who are committed at home but more mainstream in their need for deep external orthodox learning.

    The secondary school vision in this article however is I think something that won’t just happen unless everyone decides that it is the way for the community to go.

  • Rachel SD says:

    Hi Jonny,

    So far this article has had 1000 unique views meaning that it has been viewed from 1000 different internet connections, several hundred more repeat views and has been shared on facebook 41 times. That’s quite good but to promote it even more, you could encourage more people to share it on facebook, try to get the link into some email lists and put the link into some comments on other related websites.

    Good luck!

  • Rachel says:

    My son attends Caulfield junior College where there is a wonderful mix of students. A large proportion are french speaking and about 40 per cent are Jewish.
    Most, although certainly not all of the Jewish kids, attend hebrew language classes before school from 8-9am 3 mornings a week.
    In these classes and in UJEB one afternoon a week they also celebrate Jewish Holidays with traditional foods, songs, plays, etc.
    The wonderful thing about the school is the way this state school has intergrated Jewish traditions and customs into the daily life of the school.
    A few examples: 1. hot dogs on offer each week and at all school barbeques are kosher. 2. Purim becomes ‘dress up day’ for the whole school. 3. Assemblies have students performing hebrew songs as well as english and french songs. 4. At school camp kids can nominate their dietary requirements and ‘kosher’is one of the options. 5. Challahs from Glicks can be ordered each week and brought home by students.
    There are parents like myself who value diversity and are proud of their own culture. CJC is a fantastic model for other schools to follow.
    Glen Eira College is offering a french program as a follow on for students who come from Caulfield Junior College. There is no reason that I can see why the hebrew program couldn’t be continued there as well.

  • Andi says:

    I find this disturbing!
    What a fabulous way to alienate the non-Jewish community in Glen Eira.
    What else can we “take over”?

  • Leonie says:

    Jonathan Schauder has very good intentions but absolutely no understanding of a comprehensive Jewish education encompassing a way of life. The type of school that is proposed with its physical presence of Jewish children and a few Jewish subjects including Hebrew would not give a Jewish education.

    He should be aware that there are children from about fifty nationalities at the existing school. They also have a school for New Australian children attached, to assist them in integrating into the main school. A community cannot take over an existing school and disregard the curriculum and the school’s students whilst imposing their will.

    There is another better model that takes account of the existing Jewish schools and makes room for all Jewish children and that is through setting up a community fund to subsidize fees for those families who do not earn six-figure sums. The Catholics have done it, why can’t we? Imagine a scenario whereby fees would be $10,000 per family and not even dependant upon the number of children in each family. Of course, the local community would have be given first preference for this to happen.
    The holy cows now sucking tens of millions of dollars out of the community are responsible for half of our children not being able to get a Jewish education and losing their identity.

    Until now the community has been led by a plutocracy and their yes-men who have ignored the child-in-the-street as they approved the building of expensive edifices to educate their own children in luxury. At the same time many schools have cherry-picked their scholarship students and ignored children who dearly would have loved a Jewish education. Until community moneys are realigned this situation will continue. I do acknowlege that certain school accept all applicants, but without full community support they rely upon miracles to operate.

    There is a penalty for ignoring half of our children. Not only do they know that they have been disenfranchised as they see the wealth, the waste and the lack of opportunity for themselves, but we have a blueprint in front of us showing what happened a generation ago and what is happening now in the United States. Of course they are resentful for being left out,so why should they identify as being Jewish at all as young adults?

    We should be painfully aware that unless the whole community can present as a united front with a contingency plan to ensure the viability of our school system we may not have what we have now. There are no guarantees that government funding will always be available. In addition there are inefficiencies in the current system such as administrative duplication in the eight schools that have never been tackled, adding to school fees.

    It is a mirage that we are a wealthy community. Maybe some of us are, and our leadership give the impression that we are, but many parents work long hard hours to pay fees and depend upon a strong economy and low interest rates to keep their children in the Jewish school system. The community is beginning to scatter due to high real estate prices which is just one step away from leaving the community entirely. We are by no means a community that cares about all of our children, and short of the solution of aliya with its free education to remain Jewish it is obvious that we are being cruel to children and families who are not part of our education system.

    Jonathan Schauder’s worthy intentions would be better channelled into repairing the existing model which apart from the fee structure is one of the best that Jewish communities have in the whole of the Diaspora.

  • Marky says:

    “The catholics have done it, why can’t we?”

    Quite simply, because there are over 5 million catholics, 26% of the population, and only about 84,000 jews(2006 census) who say they are jewish-well under 1/2%.

  • Jonny says:

    Andi, Leonie and Marky

    Thanks so much for your comments.
    All of them are very close to my heart.

    Andi, as the author of the article I completely withdraw and apologise unreservedly for my poor choice of language earlier. “Take over” was very inappropriate and hurtful language to use; and on August 11 you’ll see I withdrew it completely. It was lazy, inaccurate expression. I’m sorry to you personally if you were offended. It is not my goal to be controversial, disrespectful or disengaging to any other individuals, student groups or communities.

    The point I was trying to make was that the State School system must still be responsive to the needs of its demographic region, despite the accepted separation of Church and State and the needs of the majority. Apologies again if that wasn’t clear.

    Leonie, I am very supportive of your suggestion too! I am of the current parent generation. We have had to make very tough choices. So many of my close friends are battling with the issues you’ve raised and looking for the “subsidised” Jewish Day School options. I hope my proposal doesn’t stop them continuing their ambitions or vision. And I very much support them!

    In fact, I have deliberately split off from those movements because I feel they are well led, well supported and explored right now. It is just very slow going. And that irrespective of those outcomes, we still need the State School system working properly for the Jewish community.

    They are not mutually exclusive movements.
    In fact I think they are very complimentary.

    At the same time it is fair to say that I am deliberately trying to give my children exposure to both worlds. I have 5 kids and identify myself a “mainstream” Jew. My children attend State Primary School; and they participate in vibrant and wonderful private and specifically Jewish activities 3 nights a week (a range of wonderful sport, Hebrew and Spirituality classes, teams and events). I coach the Maccabi U9’s and am Chairman of Spiritskool. Spiritskool is the after-school Jewish identity program being run at Spiritgrow. I recommend it to everyone. And we try to go to Shul on Friday night.

    My parents and my wife’s parents of course had no Jewish Day Schooling opportunities. They had to get their identity through family and other means. And I experienced both state school and private Jewish Day education in my student journey. And I loved both!

    Philosophically I have concluded that want my children exposed to all cultures and thinking as they develop and learn about who they are. The study of Judaism is life long.

    Personally I found that I only really started to understand and value my Judaism when I had to compare and contrast it to the beliefs and communities of those around me. And when I had to work hard to find opporunities for self expression.

    My kids love their Primary State School experience where there are currently few Jewish kids. (Still a higher proportion than the general community as Marky points out)and so they have friends of all races, religions and cultures.

    Every Jewish Festival they present on the Festival for their class mates; and others present on their events and festivals to my kids so we can all understand and learn about each other. My wife is helping to organise the School fete where many cultures will be on display.

    My whole family has very much enjoyed, for example, discussing the comparison of Judaism to Hinduism. It is fascinating!

    And for my children the discussion galvanises their understanding of their own history and story because whilst they can appreciate and understand it, they are obviously not Hindu. It also helps them to understand why my wife and I, and our extended families identify ourselves as Jewish, why we hold the values we have and why we express ourselves the way we do.

    I hope this clarifies my position everyone. Far from take over, I am pitching for due recognition of the local demographics in all State Schools.

    Specifically here, Glen Eira College is in the heart of the Jewish demographic of Melbourne – it is fed by South Caulfied, Caulfied Junior College, Caulfield Central, Carnegie Primary, Glenhuntly Primary, Gardenvale… the Volkstone kids that don’t go to Mckinnon, Coatsville, etc… all of whom have significant Jewish populations.

    GEC will be a school with a sizable community of Jewish students, that much is inevitable, and that is why we as a community need a structured, collaborative and unified approach.

    I am calling on Jewish Secondary School families to be more active in persuing the elective services they require – at Mckinnon Secondary as well.

    And yes, if there were a secondary school surrounded by Maori, Islamic, Buddhist, Hindu, or Bahai communities I would hope the model here could be replicated in their local state school for them to continue their identity and culture.

    All the very best


  • Bender says:

    We will need a school in the near future for our daughter.Being 1st generation migrants, we started from scratch.Jewish education is important to us, but there is also allot of financial strain a the moment with the mortgage etc. , and if you want more then 1 child, even harder. I wish Sydney would have a private/public Jewish schools with affordable fees. I don’t know why all the Jewish schools in the eastern suburbs of Sydney are ridiculously expensive. There are plenty of good private catholic schools that have fees one can afford and they subsidy programs are much better too. Seems like our Jewish schools (here in Sydney) are only for the affluent. I feel like it is a designed segregation. Very upsetting. Little is done to encourage the spread of Jewish education for all socio-economic levels.

  • Nat says:

    Hi there – is anyone aware of whether or not GEC will be zoned in the near future? Most of the primary schools within the Glen Eira area are zoned, leaving us little choice for any inclusion of Jewish education in the primary years (my eldest daughter will be in prep in 2014) so I am thinking about external Hebrew classes with Lamdeni or something. She is at a Jewish kinder so has the foundation.
    As we are also not in the McKinnon zone, I am concerned that we will be left out of the Glen Eira zone if they do zone it – we are only 3 K’s away from Glen Eira (with no other local secondary school) but Mckinnon has a small zone so you never know!

  • Fred says:

    It’s probably not legal to fund religious studies with tax money in Australia. Schools are for teaching facts & exploring ideas, not for promoting any particular idea, and certainly not for promoting superstitions that leave kids unable to cope properly. I don’t want my money spent to indoctrinate kids with divisive tales of invisible giant men watching us from the clouds and inside our dreams, and making them wear silly caps. If you want to do that, do it at home or in your synagogues. Not in public schools with the public’s money.

    Australia is not a Jewish country. i fail to see why non-Jews would “get excited” about a school they were paying for but didn’t go to & weren’t welcome at unless they believed without question.

    “Everyone I speak to can see it is a no brainer – from Rabbis to new immigrants, from Chabad to Mizrachi, from those that care, to those that haven’t really thought it through.”

    In other words, the Jewish people you’ve spoken to think that raising kids to be Jewish is a good thing. Wow.

    If so few people are interested in going to these schools that the price is too high you might wanna figure out why that is. Essentially you want your fairy tales taught but you don’t want to pay for them. Go away.

Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.