Home » Community Life, Jonathan Schauder, Recent Posts

If Not Now, When? The Next Step in the Free Jewish Education Movement

September 8, 2011 – 9:51 pm33 Comments

By Jonathan Schauder

Almost 8 years ago, when my wife and I were deciding whether to have a 3rd child, I went to seek counsel from my Rabbi. I posed him a difficult choice:
I asked, “Should we have a 3rd child… or stop now in order to afford Private Jewish School fees… you call it Rabbi… because it is unlikely that both will be possible.”

He didn’t even allow me to finish my question…

“Go forth and multiply! It is the first commandment. The rest you will work out. There is only one central Book and it will be learned over a lifetime and in every different way!”

We now have 5 children under 11 years old, who are likely to travel their education journey in the Public School system augmented by the wonderful Jewish community services on offer. So you can understand my motivation to fulfil this mission for myself and for all the families who face, or will face the same complicated choices as they plan their futures.

So on that note, I’d like to thank everyone who considered and commented on my first article proposing a new Jewish Community vision for Glen Eira College as our foundational central community State School.

Whilst respecting the separation of Religion and State, and protecting the needs of the majority school community, the vision was to establish some core elective subjects of relevance to Jewish students within the school. And to fill out the model, the Community would also establish a neutral coordinating office that could tailor out-of-hours spiritual and community activities to meet each individual’s needs – across the board, for everyone.

Well… as Hillel says, if not now, then when?

I’m please to inform everyone that a formal proposal was submitted on August 31 2011 to the School and the Education Minister. It has been formally received and the first few procedural steps outlined.

So what is proposed? … “AJILE@GEC”

The first step was the vision that was published. On-the-whole the model was well received by its target group. To reiterate, this movement is targeted at the Generation X parents whose children are currently in Kinder to grade 6 at various primary schools. This group is the next “wave of Jewish children” that will hit the secondary education system. As the baby boomers’ children (Gen X) hit 40 years of age and their eldest children hit 12, the need for services will be higher than ever.

A full copy of the proposal is available on request from the author or the editors.

In brief the proposal describes ‘AJILE’:

The Australian Jewish Identity and Language Education Centre.

AJILE is proposed to be a program within the brand new Glen Eira College Language and Culture centre. If successful, AJILE will deliver 3 streams of activity:

1.       VCE Hebrew: as an elective language subject from years 8-12 in school hours.

2.       VCE Religion and Society (Judaism): as an elective comparative analysis subject from years 8-12 in school hours.

3.       The coordination and administration of the full range of out-of-school hours religious, cultural and language programs that students may wish to access, including a wide range of Bar and Bat Mitzvah options for year 7 students.

The expectation is that Community sponsors, a user pays model, or Government subsidy – or a combination of all of the above – will fund these activities.

AJILE is not going to directly deliver services like Spiritgrow, Mizrachi, Chabad, UJEB, Lamdeni, Maccabi, or Temple Beth. Rather AJILE will interview the child and their family. Work out their specific needs and objectives, and point them in the right directions for full services delivered through others. We already have great services, shuls and activities resourced and running! There is no need to duplicate anything.

In playing this role, AJILE will also hopefully improve community collaboration generally. For example: bring together Spiritgrow, Chabad Glen Eira, the Blake Street Shul, and Central Shul to deliver a breakfast “Shacharit Club” for Bar Mitzvah boys from anywhere to attend. Or help Ajax football, netball and cricket, or Maccabi Soccer to recruit players. Or assist UJEB, Lamdeni or Millies to ensure that their Hebrew students are ready to go straight into year 8 VCE Hebrew having completed their Primary years’ education.

I hope this is exciting for the community generally.

The process from here?

From the moment the Israelites were first informed that would leave mitzrayim there were infinite negotiations, set backs, miracles, plagues and decision points. They needed faith and patience. And of course there was some wandering in the desert. I’m hoping our process of change will be easier!

And critically we have to remember that throughout all of that challenge for change there was so much achieved: the definition of a community, the alignment of a people and the development of a core vision that continues to inspire.

Without being so dramatic, we will now have to travel a similar metaphorical journey.

The first step was the vision that was published.

Step 2 was the formal submission of the proposal and it entering the system for assessment.

At a minimum we have the following steps ahead of us:

3.       Consideration of the concept by the GEC Principal (she is away until October)

4.       School internal review

5.       School Board review

6.       Dialogue and discussion with all stakeholders

7.       Refine and design process

8.       Detail finalisation and plan

9.       School authorization and funding

10.   Confirmation and implementation plan

11.   Publicity and launch

Miracles happen and this process may only take 4 months! At the same time its likely to take longer even though we can make massive in-roads and commence aspects of the model. In the original strategic plan discussed by the proponents of this concept, it was expected to take until the start of the 2013 academic year to launch the full plan.

How can you get involved?

Firstly, please get involved! My original call to action stands. Don’t assume we can do this without you! We can’t. We need you: Contact the school, contact the Minister, spread the word, generate momentum, generate unity, get your mates on-board.

Second, if you’d like to be more directly active, please contact me via my website www.thechangeagentnetwork.com.au. Everyone is welcome.

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


  • Jonny says:

    Some web sites that may be of interest:

    Contact GEC:

    Contact David Southwick MP for Caulfield:

    VCE Hebrew Outlined: http://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/vce/studies/lote/hebrew/HebrewSD.pdf

    VCE Religion and Society Outlined:

  • letters in the age says:


    Food for thought.

    This caught my eye and raised many creative eyebrows.

    have a good one!!

  • nadine says:

    hi jonny

    i have watched your call to arms from the side lines and i’m a long way off considering the dilemnas you are facing for your kids. however, i followed your link to GEC and i was really shocked/amazed by the very average at best academic records of their graduating students. if any gift, i feel the greatest thing i got from my high school education was a social environment that strongly pushed academics and that extra step to kick off university in the best possible position i could obtain.

    clearly you are a great list writer/change manager and where change from within the jewish community is totally required i would think parents should be wary in putting their kids forward to be jewish education guinea pigs at that school.


  • frosh says:

    Hi Jonny,

    I was discussing this issue a a couple of weeks or so ago with a couple visiting from America (although he’s ex-Melbourne) – they had read your first article on Galus. I said the biggest hurdle, as so often is with new ideas, is the chicken-egg hurdle. Many more people would send their kids to Glen Eira college once there is a critical mass, or at least on the way to a critical mass of students.

    As Nadine’s comment above perhaps demonstrates, very few people want to be the first to send their kids there, before any transformation of the school has occurred, as they’d be worried that no one follows them, and thus the transformation never happens etc.

    The ex-Melbournian now living in America made a comment, in jest, “Oh you need Groupon”

    But that got me thinking, there could be a solution inspired by the Groupon (or more accurately, a corollary of the Groupon) model. i.e. a group buy in, whereby people make a conditional commitment to buy-in to something, where the condition is a minimum number of people who also buy in.

    What if there is some arrangement where parents commit to sending their kids to Glen Eira college, on the proviso a minimum number of kids are ‘enlisted’?

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Ugh, this is disgusting and insidious. Glen Eira College should be warned that its secular community is under threat of being usurped by a bunch of fools who wish to brainwash children with bronze-age myths and superstition.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    So thank you. I will contact the school. And the principal. And the council. To warn them of what’s coming, and how they can stop it. :)

  • Jonny says:

    Hi Everyone

    Daniel, I’m sorry you are so angry with Judaism.

    To everyone following the progress of this proposal, here is a general update on the feedback being received from the community:

    – There is amazing support for this concept from everyone who is actually facing these real issues and dilemmas of Jewish identity and education. These are mainly people whose children, grandchildren or friends’ children are aged from 1-13 and are currently in the State Primary School or early Secondary School system.

    For this group this is not a theosophical or theoretical discussion. It is a genuine and immediate community gap that requires real and immediate changes. They want choices. They need their interests met. The Glen Eira College proposal is just one of many wonderful ideas being generated by our community. I’m pleased to say that as a community, despite a lot of diversity of views, we seem very clearly empowered and ready to make positive change. Thanks to everyone for their correspondence, meetings and generousity of spirit.

    – The only negative feedback seems to be coming from (a few) people for whom this is a distant philosophocal question of no real immediacy or connection to their current life. It seems to be mainly individuals who have already securely (and legitimately) decided who they are; and are very satisfied with what they have.

    And they either don’t have children or they are currently very satisfied with what their children get from their current school or community environment. Unfortunately the comments seem to target the notion of limiting rather than enabling other people’s choices and directions rather than suggesting other solutions.

    There is lots going on.

    I wish everyone a Happy New Year. I look forward to reporting back to you all again on progress in mid to late October.

  • frosh says:


    Are you against the teaching of Hebrew as a language in state schools where there is student demand for it?

    Or are you against the teaching of any foreign language in schools?

    Are you against the constituents of a school having input into which VCE options are available?

    Are you against children receiving Jewish education outside of regular school hours?

  • Daniel Levy says:

    “Daniel, I’m sorry you are so angry with Judaism”

    What a delightful little strawman you’ve strung up there. I’m not angry at Judaism. I’m not angry at all. I’m upset that in this day and age, people still cling to their myths and wish to foist it on their children from as soon as they can talk (but before they can make these decisions for themselves) in a most obscene method of brainwashing.

    Yes Jonny, I am proud of who I am and satisfied with what I have. But I am unsatisfied that so many children are being brainwashed by their parents and educations. So that is why I am deeply concerned by your actions.

    To ingrain within a child the teachings of the old testament – of a god who kills babies for the actions of their fathers, who genocides whole villages, who visits the most exotic and disgusting punishments on people… well, that simply will not do. Not to mention it’s all a crock of shit dreamt up by whichever dude(s) wrote it at the time.

    Frosh, I am against institutionalising the learning of one religion at a state school where the rigidity of separation of church and state must be preserved.

    BUT ULTIMATELY, it doesn’t matter. I have since received assurances from my contacts within the school that they not only knew about this, but are taking all the preventative steps required to ensure it does not happen. :)

    So have at it, Schauder, I’m satisfied that I don’t need to fight this battle, it will be fought by the relevant people in a far more diplomatic and productive manner than just telling the organisers they’re misguided fools whose desire to brainwash children with mythology is unacceptable.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Frosh, I am against a Jewish takeover of GEC and a polarising Jewish/non-Jewish divide that Schauder wants to so kindly provide.

    If this goes through, GEC will be separated into two camps. The Jews with their other Jewish classes, and the non-Jews with their non-Jewish classes.

    GEC will be flooded with Jewish applications and you can sort of see where this is headed.

    That’s just my logistical concern. My real concern is that you idiots want to brainwash your children. Let them grow up first, don’t foist your religion onto them, and let them decide for themselves. Or do you know in your heart of hearts that if you allowed your kids that sort of freedom – that without the ‘stick’ of eternal punishment of god – they’d realise how sensible non-belief was and wouldn’t stick to your crazy bronze-age myths? Because that is pretty much the only way these idiotic religions propagate. Through the brainwashing of children.

  • Sam says:


    How about providing some answers to quite reasonable questions (Frosh’s posting). You have already made your point regarding your strong dislike of teaching (any)? religion at school.
    Do you have any children already at GEC? If not, then why go to the amount of trouble that you have, to sabotage Jonny’s efforts to introduce Hebrew language and some other Jewish content? If it doesn’t affect you, then why not allow others do something that they perceive as a worthwhile benefit?
    Or are you on a mission?

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Sam, I did answer Frosh’s question. My problem is not with specific details of the program, like religion and society or hebrew being taught (which you don’t need an ‘AJILE’ for, you can actually request it be taught at the school if there are enough students wanting that subject undertaking VCE). My problem is with this insidious idea of transforming a secular state school into a Jewish community outpost.

    And it does affect me. I am a member of the Caulfield community, I have previously tutored at the school, and it saddens me to see this sort of stuff going on to this day.

    You perceive it as ‘worthwhile benefit’. And I can demonstrate to you why that ‘worthwhile benefit’ is actually a pox on society. I am on a mission of rationalism. :)

  • frosh says:


    Instead of proudly exclaiming how you are against transmission of culture and heritage (is that just for Jews, or would it be for other groups, such as Indigenous Australians?), how about just answering by questions with a simple yes or no? It shouldn’t be that difficult for a bright guy like yourself.

  • Jonny says:

    Hi Guys – Frosh and Sam, Thanks!

    Daniel, if you take away your rhetoric I concur with most of the core ideas you are sharing – ridiculous as that may sound to you. You have done well to find controversy where none exists:

    1. “I am unsatisfied that so many children are being brainwashed by their parents and educations”.

    Agreed. We all want our kids to make educated choices. I think you may have me pegged as some ideological whackjob, but unfortunately I am just a middle-of-the-road, cultural-identity-based Jewish Dad who is trying his best to give his kids every opportunity to understand all their identity options.

    You know as well as I that those who wish to “brainwash” their kids will NOT send their kids to Glen Eira College no matter what is offered – guaranteed.

    2. “To ingrain within a child the teachings of the old testament…”

    Agreed. Any kabbalistic or Talmudic old testament analysis will, as it does now, occur after-school by private choice. The comparative VCE subject will compare the Torah, Koran, New testament, Buddist Principles, Aboriginal and Aethiest views in order to educate and consider about Humanity and our deep Human need for connection, meaning and faith. Please read the subject outline.

    3. “I am against institutionalising the learning of one religion at a state school where the rigidity of separation of church and state must be preserved.”

    Agreed. There is absolutely no vision here to destroy the diversity at any school, nor corrupt the division of religion and state. None! My kids attend state school exactly so that they can interact with everyone of every faith and background. This is critical to the value of the education.

    – Daniel, please stop suggesting this is an evil Jewish conspiracy!

    4. “Taking all the preventative steps required to ensure it does not happen.”

    Sad that you would choose to do this. But I accept you are entitled to oppose. And I look forward to engaging those that might support negative fear-based arguments against any culture in the State School system.

    5. “I am against a Jewish takeover of GEC and a polarising Jewish/non-Jewish divide.”

    Agreed. I am a key note speaker at the interfaith leadership conference in February next year. The protection of mutli-culturalism is paramount. This proposal will bring barriers down, not put them up.

    6. “GEC will be flooded with Jewish applications and you can sort of see where this is headed”.

    Agreed. But surely that goes to your point about meeting legitimate needs of a school community. Didn’t you say,

    6a. “you can actually request it (Hebrew and R&S) be taught at the school if there are enough students wanting that subject undertaking VCE”.

    GEC is our local State School in this demographic area. One of only three. If flooding does happen, which would be unlikely in my view, surely the families and students must be allowed to make elective choices about their learning. That would be true in any demographic – on any legitimate subject.

    7. “Let them grow up first,”

    Agreed. This is secondary school not infants! There are no electives in Primary School. As young adults, the whole point in Secondary School is to learn, explore, debate, understand and make choices.

    8. “My problem is not with specific details of the program, like religion and society or hebrew being taught…”

    Great. Good. So please support these aspects (which is essentially the entire proposal). AJILE is an after hours coordination service to be run by the community for the community; and accessed voluntarily.

    And GEC has just built a $1.97million facility for this purpose:

    To quote Principal Lesley Lamb, “(GEC) will have a dedicated space for teaching languages other than English, English as a second language, and cultures.”

    9. “My problem is with this insidious idea of transforming a secular state school into a Jewish community outpost.”

    Agreed. It is an in-post already. Again, let me reinterate in no uncertain terms: this is the local Secondary State School in the heart of the Jewish community in Glen Eira – that’s why you went there Daniel; and why so many Jewish families will follow you. Those families will range from othodox to athiest… but this is their school! They should be enabled to have choices.

    10. “I am on a mission of rationalism.”

    OK let’s be rational: Here are the numbers…Glen Eira College will need to service the Jewish Community over at least the next decade… and the community is growing… irrespective of any School planning…

    *Lamdeni Hebrew School – After hours for State School kids has 250 students enrolled from the local State Primary Schools who may feed GEC.

    *UJEB: I don’t know the exact figures, but UJEB Hebrew Schools have over 150 students enrolled from the local State Primary Schools who may feed into GEC. And hundreds more who receive structured RE in the State Primary schools and at GEC (JSN).

    *HIP: Hebrew Immersion Porgram, at Caulfield Junior College, has around 80-100 students currently enrolled who will most likely directly feed into GEC.

    *Chabad of various locations close to GEC have 20-50 students each from the local State Primary Schools.

    *Millies Hebrew Program in Bentleigh services around 30-50 families

    * And there is a shortage of Jewish kindergarten spaces in every Jewish identity tagged kindergarten in the area. Waiting lists are at least a year long.

    By my estimation, that’s around 500-600 local families or more who will continue to actively seek Jewish services for their Primary School kids as they transition into Secondary.

    *That doesn’t include the *Liberal, progressive or conservative movement offerings of which I am unaware, other Local Synagogue offerings (Blake Street, Murrumbeena, Central Shul) of which I am unaware; and the youth movement or sports offerings which occur on weekends.

    All these Jewish State School families will be entering Secondary School over the next 5 years. Irrespective of any ideas or reforms.

    These families have a simple 5 choice path ahead:
    – A Private Jewish Secondary School
    – A Private non-Jewish Secondary School
    – Mckinnon Secondary: which is very heavily zoned
    – Bentleigh Secondary: which I believe will eventually follow this AJILE model too in order to service its immediate Israeli community; and
    – Glen Eira College: where the first of my kids will be a student in 18 months time, and I will be an active parent.

    It won’t be a GEC “flood”… but it will be an active, growing community that will be asking for subjects, services, engagement, input, respect, and results.

    Good evening.


  • Aaron says:

    You forget Brighton Secondary College, whose zone covers a large part of (increasigly Jewish) Bentleigh. It used to, I am not sure if it still does, have UJEB tuition there. This is also an option for Jewish parents who will be using the state system.

  • Jonny says:

    Thanks Aaron
    I don’t know what is happening in Brighton but you make a good point. I imagine many of the Gardenvale and Coatsville kids will transition into Brighton. Perhaps their parent body should be considering a similar proposal?

  • nadine says:

    Jonny you have counted the numbers(great!) but you really need to be selling this on stuff of it all…what will the curriculum look like? can you secure teachers(poach from jewish day schools? who are they?)? will youth movements be involved? how? which families are supporting this? You really need to build the character of what it will be like to be a student there. So far you have structured it like a good debater and have a strong manner in rallying the troops so maybe that’s why Daniel feels GEC is under seige. Yet you really need to build a sense of the flavour of this idea. The reason people want Judaism in their kids live’s is just coming from an often unexplainable(maybe irrational) and very emotional essense that we have. So you really should personalize your dreams in scenarios. I feel at the moment you’re a bit too pied piper. Follow and it will all be unveiled… You’re all swing, no charm. Not a popular way with hesitant parents and kids…

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Hi Jonny, sorry for the lateness of my reply. I’ve been a bit snowed in the past few days but have some time now.

    And my, have you backpedalled at speed!

    1) “Agreed. We all want our kids to make educated choices. I think you may have me pegged as some ideological whackjob, but unfortunately I am just a middle-of-the-road, cultural-identity-based Jewish Dad who is trying his best to give his kids every opportunity to understand all their identity options.”

    Really? Then explain how part of your plan involves getting the synagogues involved to provide religious instruction. Explain how that involves a “wide range of bar/bat-mitzvah classes”.

    That is ALL talmudic religious instruction. And you’re telling me that kids as young as 12 can honestly “make educated choices” about these ceremonies when they’re being railroaded into it by their parents?

    Yeah, good going. Pull the other one.

    2) “Agreed. Any kabbalistic or Talmudic old testament analysis will, as it does now, occur after-school by private choice.”

    But that’s NOT the private choice of the child. That’s the choice of their parents, and you’re seeking to put in the infrastructure to not only allow it, but facilitate and ease it?

    Again, you can sod right off with that sort of bs.

    3) “Agreed. There is absolutely no vision here to destroy the diversity at any school, nor corrupt the division of religion and state. None! My kids attend state school exactly so that they can interact with everyone of every faith and background. This is critical to the value of the education. ”

    Yes, and establishing a ‘Jewish’ centre in the middle of a state school (no other religions, JUST Jewish) will do nothing but disrupt that diversity, as one religion is separated out over all the others. I don’t know what fairy land you’re living one (probably one that involves a god), but that will breed intolerance on both sides. These are kids. This is highlighting and separating them out by religious differences. That will breed contempt and intolerance, sorting the playground into the Jews and the non-Jews. All because they’ve institutionalised Judaism at that school. This is basic psychology.

    4) Oh, wow, you’re a keynot speaker at an interfaith conference. I take it all back! I must have been SO WRONG.

    5) Your proposal will only bring barriers up. Where were the other barriers before? Do you mean to tell me that you think there were barriers for a Jewish kid at GEC before? That’s tantamount to accusing GEC of enshrined anti-semitism. That’s definitely not the case. But I guarantee you that you WILL put up barriers both to Jewish kids and other kids with your ridiculous “AJILE” as you sort GEC into two camps. The yiddishes going to their AJILE and the goys who don’t. Playground fights happen over who has a better lunch, do you honestly think this won’t be several orders of magnitude worse?!

    6) Religion is NOT a legitimate need. No school should tolerate little kids getting brainwashed.

    7) “Agreed. This is secondary school not infants! There are no electives in Primary School. As young adults, the whole point in Secondary School is to learn, explore, debate, understand and make choices.”

    I despise your argument that kids as young as 12 (and even as old as 16) can make these choices for themselves. They’re still impressionable kids. Yes, some of them will be emotionally/intellectually mature enough to make the decision. Most will not. These “electives” you’re proposing, esp. the after-school ones about bar/bat mitzvahs are religious instruction. White-washing the kids’ minds with dogmatic bullshit.

    Come off it, Jonny, in your first post you were talking about rabbinic instruction, prayer groups etc. why not now? Why has the wind suddenly gone out of your sails on this?

    If a 12 year old kid is praying to god, it’s not because he decided there was a god. It’s almost always because their parents told them (and there would be no argument about it) that that was their religion and they HAD to believe. If you don’t see that, if you don’t understand that, if you don’t want to prevent that, then you’re either delusional or evil. I think you’re the former, but all too many are the latter (usually the ones obsessed with the power religion feeds to them).

    8) “AJILE is an after hours coordination service to be run by the community for the community; and accessed voluntarily.”

    Not voluntarily for the kids. Stop cramming religion down their throats. Stop facilitating other parents doing so. It’s not fair, it’s tantamount to child abuse.

    9) These parents have a better choice. And I hope you’ll be a part of that. LET YOUR CHILDREN BE. Stop telling them they’re Jewish and so they should have to believe in god and learn about Jewish history etc.

    That’s NOT your choice to make for them. They can believe in Judaism if they want to, but don’t cram it down their throats and say it’s a part of their identity. How cruel is that?

    How cruel is it to tell your child that Judaism is a part of their identity and to reject Judaism is to reject themselves. You don’t even give them a CHANCE to form their own opinions.

    You mightn’t drill god into them (and that’s one step better, bravo, you’re not a total monster parent), but MANY parents are doing that. And telling their kids that belief in god is a part of their identity, so that they can’t actually decide to follow a differnet path without severe emotional trauma.

    Well I’m not going to stand for this bullshit. And thankfully, it appears, neither will GEC. :)

  • Jonny says:

    Hi Nadine

    Thanks for your comment. I’ll share it with the group supporting this proposal. I don’t have any immediate solutions about the feel as I am still 18 months away from being a parent at the school and don’t yet really know how things will play out in terms of the proposal orthe logistics. The only “rush” I feel for this proposal is for grade 6 student families that have to decide what to do next year and I’m aware that we are probably too late to promise those parents any significant changes for their year 7 student.


    That’s enough for me mate. I feel I’ve really tried to respond to your interests with seriousness, generousity of time and energy and respect for your views. I don’t know how you will parent when you have to make these difficult choices. And I am certainly not trying to change you. Opposition for this proposal is fine. Life is full of complications and we all have to make our own calls. I wish you all the best on your life journey.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Jonny, I understand that it is confronting at first when you realise the cruelty of the religious brainwashing of children. Backing away from this argument is a natural defense mechanism against confronting the hard truth of it all. I wish you luck on your journey to rationalism and reason, but until you get there, if you wouldn’t mind, please stop trying to lay the foundations for the abuse of children. Cheers!

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Oh, and I forgot to reply to froshy! And it was such a doozey of a paragraph you wrote, too. Glad I read back over the comments :)

    “Instead of proudly exclaiming how you are against transmission of culture and heritage (is that just for Jews, or would it be for other groups, such as Indigenous Australians?), how about just answering by questions with a simple yes or no? It shouldn’t be that difficult for a bright guy like yourself.”

    It’s all well and good for you to couch it as “the transmission of culture and heritage”, but it’s not culture and heritage. It’s religion. Let’s not beat around the bush, here. I’m talking about telling your kid that they’re Jewish, and that is part of their identity, and to deny Judaism, and to deny god is to deny their identity.

    That’s markedly different to telling your kids their genealogical history.

    And that’s what all religious parents do. Almost any kid who grows up with religion has been told since before they COULD think for themselves that they were of this faith, and they had to see these prayers and worship this god, or they were denying their own identity. That is cruel, and sick. And yes, I’m proudly against it.

    And how poor of an editor are you to not only try to stifle debate essentially telling me to stop asking and just answer your questions.

    I will ALWAYS argue vehemently against religious brainwashing, of any flavour. But I am physically connected to the GEC community, to the Caulfield community and yes, involuntarily, to the Jewish community as well and so I am particularly passionate about it when it’s so close to home.

    You can now do any number of things in response. You could prevent me from arguing again, but I peg you as having slightly more integrity than that. You could simply ignore this comment thread altogether. Or, and here’s a SHOCKER, you could formulate (or try to formulate) logical arguments against my position. Shouldn’t be too hard for a bright guy like you, eh? :)

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Hmm, one paragraph in what I just wrote doesn’t lead logically to the next, and I need to clarify.

    I shouldn’t have lead from

    “That’s markedly different to telling your kids their genealogical history.”

    into “And that’s what religious parents do.”

    It should read, “But religious parents do the former.” (referring to the paragraph that preceded the one that lead to the lack of a logical followthrough)

  • Sam says:


    Your postings are very one-dimensional and ignorant. It is apparent that you equate Judaism to religious indoctrination. That is quite far from the truth. Yet you write as if you are absolutely certain of your arguments. If you were able to observe life in a shtetl in Eastern Europe pre 1939 you would realise that it is very much about a way life that was enriched with a unique language and humour, and a culture very different in almost every respect to the gentile community living around them. There are movies that were filmed in Poland in the mid 30’s by Jews and featuring Yiddish speaking actors that convey some of this. And I have seen a few of them, and religious practice is a minor part of the storylines of each one.I would wish that my children would also at some time view these Yiddish movies and not only understand the language, but also the nuance which cannot be conveyed with sub-titles.

    We are not a proselytizing religion, and if you want to move out of the “ghetto” in Caulfield and divorce your faith,(none apparently), no one will try to stop you. In fact it is ironic that you don’t already live in St Albans where there is a demographic that might have some views fairly similar to you. This might suit you better. And there is a shortage of good housing in Caulfield.
    As far as demanding that we only inform our children of their genealogy, ie. their lineage to their ancestors and nothing more, that is an outrageous chutzpah. Why would you claim that you have a right to insist that all others desist from informing and teaching their children about their rich heritage which by necessity includes at least the basics of the Jewish religion? At a young age, this is largely about Festivals and Shabbat, much more than ritual and dogma. But if it was about ritual and mitvot, who are you, to even attempt to interfere?
    Your arguments paint you as little better than some of the rabble that are involved in the BDS protests at the Max Brenner stores that are avowed ant-semites.

  • Jonny says:

    Hi Sam
    You raise a worthy gap in this proposal. Perhaps Yiddish as another language option should also be included. It would make sense for the Sholem Community to send their kids to Glen Eira post 6 years of Yiddish Primary. If you think this could be a viable addition to the proposal can you please shoot through further thoughts?

  • Sam says:

    Hi Jonny

    There would be a fairly high percentage of jewish kids (of Eastern European descent) that would like to be able to use the language that their great-grandparents used in their homes when they were growing up. I made mention of Jewish theatre previously, and why not have an elective in Yiddish music and drama? Finding a teacher might be more difficult though, however I am not in Melbourne and maybe there are some teachers in the private Jewish school system already that might be willing and capable. To get a snippet if Yiddish cinema have a look at the first scene from “A Serious Man” that was a brilliant Coen brothers movie from around 3 years ago. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1R-zbgb5i0

  • Jonny says:

    Thanks Sam
    I’m seeing some Sholem parents on the weekend, I’ll get their thoughts and interests. I’m a big Coen brothers fan. Cheers.

  • Jonny says:

    Hi Daniel

    As the old saying says, “all generalisations are false, including this one”. Repeating the same bitter generalisations ad nauseum doesn’t make them any more engaging or influential – quite the opposite.

    Daniel, I believe in learning conversations where people share divergent views; and if I could find any value or purpose in continuing the discussion with you, I’d be happy to. But I can’t see any value in continuing our dialogue – which has become pointless in the context of the GEC proposal.

    The proposal will continue at full steam either way. And it will inlcude me continuing to encourage every parent to provide their children with a spiritual and/or cultural identity in whatever way works for them.

    Do you really see any further purpose or value in dialoguing with me? Please explain. I had assumed you were sick of me too.

    And I’m afraid to say my friend that my real concern is the enjoyment you seem to be experiencing when attacking the beliefs of others. I think deep down I’m sad that you only wish to continue a dialogue with me so that you can continue to belittle and degrade.

    So to be clear, I won’t tolerate any further abuse. But if you have any new and genuine questions or observations that are aimed at helping, solving, exploring, respecting, learning or engaging, I’m happy to continue.

  • Loren says:

    I have read your proposal and think that it is a wonderful idea. Any idea that will create more choice for Jewish parents as to how they go about providing their children with a Jewish education deserves to be heard and hopefully supported by the Jewish community at large.
    Since GEC is a state school, I’m assuming that any student who attends the college would be able to study the subjects you are proposing (eg: Hebrew), no matter what religion or cultural identity they have. As such, I don’t see any segregation here, only more options and choices for all concerned. Well done for a great initiative which will hopefully come to fruition!

  • David Friede says:

    Just wanted to make some comments on this as a Jewish parent of a current Year 7 student at GEC. I, like many other Jewish parents, are concerned about the future of Jewish education. Private Jewish education has become a financially unsustainable prospect for many families.

    We left the private system about 5 years ago mainly for financial reasons, with fear, uncertainty and doubt, but had the conviction in ourselves that it was the best decision for our children. All three of our children are thriving both academically and socially in the public school system at both Caulfield South Primary and GEC. The decision to send our oldest daughter to GEC for Year 7 I admit was tough, but again we were determined that we would make this a positive experience for her.

    And boy has it been a fantastic year! GEC is a warm, caring and supporting community. I would say that this is the best year my daughter has had so far, especially academically, and socially she is surrounded by a fantastic and close-knit group of kids from all walks of life.

    Jonny, have you taken the time to consult the Jewish families already at GEC? There are quite a number already there and I’m sure they would be more than happy to provide feedback on the proposal and how it may impact the school, and how it might be perceived given they are already in tune with the school’s culture and values.

    I think it is inevitable that GEC will attract a greater number of Jewish families in the future, with or without this program, as there are few alternatives for those that cannot afford private education. The tide is already turning. We already know of quite a number of Jewish families considering GEC next year.

    I certainly agree that something needs to be done about providing Jewish education in the public system. Whether or not this is the way to go remains to be seen.

  • Gabi says:

    There’s a Jewish Education Symposium on tonight, Monday 7 November 2011, at Moorabbin shul. Here are the details:
    A symposium examining the values, challenges, and costs.
    Hear from the experts.
    Rabbi J. Kennard, Principal, Mt. Scopus
    Rabbi Y. Smukler Principal, Yeshivah College
    7:30 for a 7:45 pm start at Moorabbin Shul, 960 Nepean Highway, Moorabbin

  • Zara says:


    Thank you for taking the time to address an issue that has dominated my thoughts since I gave birth to my first child nearly 3 years ago. I have spent countless hours weighing up the pros of sending my children to a Jewish school.

    Since I would too love to have several children, the likelihood of affording a private education for both primary and secondary levels, is slim to none! Then comes the question, if we do decide to enrol our children in a Jewish school, should we do so when they are in primary or secondary school? In primary, they are more likely to learn about their heritage in a fun and memorable way (through song, art and play etc), whilst in secondary, they are likely to form a social circle that will prevail for a significant portion of their young adult lives.

    To throw a further spanner in the works, I am also zoned for both Valkstone primary and McKinnon secondary. Is it worth bypassing these wonderful schools in order to send my children to a Jewish day school? The debate continues……

    Ultimately, I look at the Catholic community and see how they have provided their people with wonderful, high level schools which are heavily subsidised and thus affordable. Why can’t our community do the same? However, if we do end up establishing a subsidised community/public Jewish school, how will the high demand for such a school be met?

    Oh and may I just sign off by saying that Daniel, you are an absolute disgrace! Your ignorance and extremist views are borderline comical. Why don’t you have some children of your own (your previous comments clearly indicate that you don’t have children) and then express your views on the topic, because until you do so, your opinions don’t matter since none of this applies to your crazy self anyway! Just because you ‘know’ people at GEC and have ‘tutored’ there, does not include you in the group of people who are affected by the free Jewish education movement.

    If you don’t want to ‘brainwash’ your children, then go right ahead and send them to whatever school you want, but it seems like the rest of us want to give our children a chance to learn about their heritage, language, culture etc. I am far from religious myself (I don’t keep kosher, wear a wig, keep sabbath etc), but I do want my children to be aware of their background and have the chance to learn about their heritage the way that I did! And there is nothing wrong with that!

  • Marky says:

    Zara writes:”why can’t our community do the same(as the catholics)”

    Quite simply, because we only have a fraction of the catholic population of 5 million plus.

  • gedalia says:

    A Western Australian perspective on this issue is at http://www.jewgleperth.com/?p=2118

Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.