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First Milestone Achieved for the Free Jewish Education Movement

May 20, 2012 – 8:35 pm52 Comments

Glen Eira College's first Hebrew class with visiting parliamentarians

By Jonny Schauder
The Background and Vision
Back in August last year, I published my first article on Galus Australis about working with Glen Eira College. The article was part of a strategy to improve the services and options that Jewish students can access at the state school located in the heart of the Melbourne Jewish community. There were three pillars in the original vision: Hebrew as a language subject alongside French and Chinese; the VCE Religion and Society elective being offered from Year 10 with a Judaism stream for those interested; and before- and after-school services better coordinated to meet the needs of those teens who want extra religious or spiritual inputs, whether Orthodox or Liberal.

Success
I am very pleased to report that Hebrew has been formally accepted at the College, and commenced as a curriculum elective for year 7 students. The subject started in term two 2012, with seven students enrolled.  It has been very well received by the community, the school, and the students. The students receive three in-school hours of formal Hebrew tuition per week.

The movement has also been very successful in creating awareness and support for the idea that state schools can be more responsive to the needs of their local Jewish communities.

More students were looking to enrol in this first Hebrew offering at Glen Eira College, but unfortunately we were too late to be able to adjust for the limitations of timetabling, subject clashes and classroom allocations. The original plan was to commence in 2013 but the take-up was sufficient to initiate the subject a year early. At Glen Eira College, there are about 95 students enrolled in Year 7, so the uptake was about 8% of the student body.

Endorsement
A few weeks ago, the Victorian Minister for Education, Martin Dixon, and the MP for Caulfield, David Southwick, visited Glen Eira College together with two Senators to tour and endorse all the language programs being delivered. Minister Dixon was reported to be very impressed with the Hebrew offering.

Resourcing
The Glen Eira College campus is excellent. The School really benefited from the government investments of the past few years. I invite everyone to go and have a look around. The facilities being offered by the School for the Hebrew subject are brand new and cutting edge, with multimedia classrooms and resources having very generously been made available by the Principal, Lesley Lamb.

We recruited a wonderful young teacher who is passionate about bringing Hebrew to life for the students in fun and practical ways. My own tour of the subject gave me both pride and hope that the Hebrew elective could begin to fill the gap that exists in Jewish Education. Those of us who either prefer a more diverse educational environment for our children, or simply cannot afford the Jewish day school system, will have great confidence that their children will find a happy balance at Glen Eira College and be able to augment the educational experience with their own choices.

Whilst the funding of this year’s Hebrew class has required private investment, the ambition is that at least 20 students will enrol in 2013. If that level of participation is achieved, the subject can access more government funding, or even become completely free of student fees, charity, or sponsorship. We are committed to this goal.

The Future
It is hoped that the remainder of the vision will be fulfilled. The school has been wonderful, open, and appropriately careful and conscientious in its consideration of how to best implement the ideas we put forward. I hope these achievements put pressure on other state secondary schools such as Mckinnon, Brighton, and Bentleigh Secondary to follow the precedent and offer Hebrew for their very large Jewish student bodies. Of course, the Hebrew subject is not just for Jewish kids. It is hoped that non-Jewish kids might also choose to access the subject as we go forward.

I have repeatedly been asked: “Yes, but what else will you offer the Jewish kids?” For now, the agenda is as simple as the original vision. That being said, UJEB continues to provide a wonderful social base for Jewish students on campus to meet on a weekly basis, and also provides camps and other outside-school social activities. But one thing has inspired me about the journey so far.  Either because of or simultaneous to Hebrew being introduced, the School has embraced other elements of importance to the Jewish community. For example, because many of the kids taking Hebrew are observant, Orthodox, traditional, or just culturally conscious, the School has begun accounting for Jewish Holidays in its planning.

Similarly, this year, Glen Eira College stopped for a two hour Holocaust memorial for the entire student body. The memorial focused on a child survivor and Red Army soldier telling their stories. Quite coincidentally (but on reflection very meaningfully), the Hebrew subject was launch on the eve of the 70th Yom HaShoah. The assembly itself was run by Year 9 students at the school who felt the population of the College should unite on the issues of respect, acceptance, and tolerance for all.

Invitation
I continue to invite anyone interested to join our movement. All you have to do is tell others about the vision and ideas, discuss the concept with your family and friends, and help those who might benefit directly from the program to access Glen Eira College. And of course, should it suit your needs, please enrol in the program for next year!

I appreciate the opportunity Galus Australis gave our movement nine months ago, and the opportunities to publish updates since. I will keep everyone informed of developments as we hopefully go from strength to strength!

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.

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52 Comments »

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Glen Eira College under the leadership of the present principal Lesley Lamb has had a positive and constructive impact on staff morale and that of course filters down to students. It has amazingly caring staff and they deliver a well rounded curriculum that supports the learning of children from culturely diverse backgrounds and from a range of abilities as should any educational institution.
    They have a home work centre in the library twice a week to assist students in their learning. Kids are well supported in their learning goals and their welfare is uppermost in the school. It is a great school.
    I hope your program does well and that there will be many more students next year. Chatzlocha raba!

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Hahahahaha I’m glad GEC had the good sense to offer Hebrew and can all of your religious indoctrination ideas. Good stuff, Jonny.

  • Jonny says:

    Hi Daniel
    Good to hear from you my friend. Your opposition remains a key to our success, so please keep going!!
    Big hugs ;)

  • Daniel Levy says:

    I was never opposed to offering Hebrew language. I’m happy if any children are learning languages other than English. This is the solid result I was expecting. I’m glad to see Ms. Lamb did not capitulate on preserving the integrity of her school’s secular inclusion policy :) You would be wise to take a hint and stop trying to force a government school to offer religious activities.

  • Jonny says:

    Nicest thing anyone’s ever written mate! Glad to have you on the team!! The teachers don’t remember you attending the school. I take it you must’ve gone to a different State School… did they do anything there for you?

  • Jonny says:

    @Ilana
    Thanks so much for the great blog Ilana. My daughter only goes to GEC next year but all the activities and diacussions we’ve experienced have been lovely. The school is amazing and my daughter can’t wait to get involved! Thanks for the support!

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Didn’t attend GEC, but I was a tutor in their inaugural homework help club. They’re a good bunch of kids so try not to shove your religion down their throats :)

  • Jonny says:

    Sorry Daniel

    No need to answer that question… these blogs should protect privacy. Just that I recalled you saying you’d gone to GEC. I went to Mount Scopus and Mckinnon… so I’m delighted by the what I think GEC will offer in terms of balance… Be great! :D

  • Jonny says:

    We must’ve blogged simulatenously! LOL. No worries mate.

  • Jonny says:

    Lesley Lamb, Principal of Glen Eira College recently released the following public statement at the start of the year:

    Glen Eira College Principal, Lesley Lamb, has shown her commitment to working with the community to provide an excellent, inclusive education. The school welcomes the interest of the Jewish community in introducing some targeted Jewish language and culture programs at the school. To this end, the school is liaising with some current Glen Eira parents to gauge whether the level of interest warrants proceeding further down this track. While there are many pragmatic, educational and governance issues to work through, the College Council and staff are supportive in principle. A broad consultation process will continue to be pursued to ensure all programs implemented are consistent with government guidelines and introduced in a staged and controlled way.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    well done Jonny! It is really quite amazing what one person can get going…

  • Jonny says:

    That’s very kind of you Mandi. I’ve had amazing support from all corners of the community and beyond…
    “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world – in fact it is the only thing that ever has.” Unknown
    It is exciting times!!

  • Jonny says:

    Sorry to keep commenting on my own article but two other observations were made with me last night that I feel Ishould share:

    1. The Hebrew curriculum is based on the same program used in the Jewish Day School and we have expert support from a number of sources to ensure curriculum and pedagogy quality.

    2. Yes, just like when you learn French you must learn to some extent about Paris and croissants and the French Revolution so too in the Hebrew syllabus. It must be broader than pronunciation. The context of a language is part of its importance and drives many unique words and ideas.

    These were facebook questions raised last night…

  • Manny Waks says:

    Well done Jonny!

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H
    You are so right Jonny, just as we cannot do French without some learning about the French Revolution, Le roi soleil, croissants and le fromage francais, Versailles – it is not all les verbes, we can not limit our Hebrew learning to learning about the shoresh and hashemot shel hacol and just as being Jewish is more than bagels and lox or even chicken soup.
    I used to have a fox terrier when I was a kid. He LOVED to roll in the carcass of dead foxes. He enjoyed the juicy aroma of the rotting pelt on his fur and would run around in abject joy and invite us to join him for a good roll among the entrails and offal. As much as we loved him, we always declined the offer. I feel the same way about someone who eats treif or hates religion. Still love them dearly, I just decline the invitation to join them in doing wht they do.
    I think the program at Glen Eira is fanatastic on all accounts and chatzlocha rabba. Your daughter will love GEC they are a very caring school with a high level of duty of care to their students.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Just on a further note, for those of you who are not averse to a little of kosher there will be ice cream in shule on Shauot, both Sunday and Monday.
    Danny if it makes you feel better you could probably get your icecream for shavuot and scoop it out with a dried pigs ear from the pet shop. :-)

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Thanks for the offer, Ilana, but I’d rather do something productive on Sunday and Monday than worship an imaginary sky fairy.

  • abc says:

    But is this really the same as a Jewish Day School? As exposure to Jewish Studies, Jewish studies teachers, informal educators, every day and throughout the day? As Jewish experiences on offer throughout the week and the year?

    Will GEC celebrate Yom Hatzmaut in a sea of blue and white? Will it celebrate Purim with a grand fancy dress carnival?

    Let’s be honest. What Jonny has created at GEC is better than the alternative in State Schools – i.e. nothing. But it has basically nothing in common with what’s provided by a Jewish Day School.

    The solution to the fees crisis is to get the community to put real money into a fund for subsidies, not to provide an alternative that is the palest of reflections of what a Jewish Education is.

  • Congratulations Jonny on a significant achievement.

    This is significant because it starts to introduce some additional options for parents. Until now, it was state school combined with UJEB or Lamdeni, or one of many private Jewish schools, with very little in between.

    Now, for the first time, a state school is offering Hebrew as a subject, primarily for Jewish students. No, it’s not Religious Education, and doesn’t purport to be (and cannot be by law). It’s something of Jewish content for Jewish students, and also has the effect of bringing the Jewish students together socially.

    I look forward to the market developing further hybrid options, perhaps even one day offering subjects on Judaism in state schools like they do in the UK and in “charter schools” in the US.

    Eventually, there will be a more even spectrum of choice for Jewish parents, and this will result in the existing private Jewish schools to justify what they deliver for what they charge (just like any private school must do for its target market). I’m confident they can make a compelling argument, just like abc points out the many things GELC isn’t.

    It’s called “competition”, and in general, it’s good for an industry. Bring it on!

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H
    Yes Abc for parents like myself who would give their eye teeth for a full on Jewish education for their kid, it is a good option to have. It is way better than nothing. Unfortuntely I really cannot afford a Scopus or Yavene education for my child. I would love to be able to but I am being realistic. Is it fair to send my child to a school where he is the only child of a single parent who is religious and dirt poor, worst than dirt pour and my level of religosity would be at odds with the majority. I had planned on a private school education for my son but that was before his parents divorced and I lost my work and other things beyond the scope of my control. One has to be realistic. What you have got to do is get Jewish parents who send their kids to Wesley or Caulfield Grammar or Firebanks or Shelford to view the Jewish Day School system as a viable option.
    I spoke with a mother of a jewish girl with special needs who is going to Shelford. Now she had had her daughter in two Jewish schools and sadly neither of those two schools were able to provide the level of care and support that the child needed. That is why she chose the non Jewish independent school system and that points to a lack in the Jewish day schools that are unable to provide the appropriate educational support or meet the needs of some students.
    I actually think there is a need for the average kid to have his or her educational needs met with in the jewish day school system and I believe that a lot of damage is done to those children who somehow ‘just don’t fit in’. They are marked down as lacking and do not think they do not feel it. There needs to be greater inclusivity and sensitivity to the individual.
    Yes, it is nice to have our rabbis, doctors,lawyers, barristers and Collins Street specialists, but we need our ordinary folk too. We need our mechanics and our shputzniks and whatnot to feel valued Jews with a place in the scheme of things.
    There are some people who want a state school education for their child and they do not want a Jewish education and that is their right. There are others who feel uncomfortable with the the approach of Jewish Day schools and they still want some Hebrew with a smattering of culture – Jewish cultural experience which reminds me of a story. I was teaching at a college with a large contingent Jewish students. It was 1993 just before Rosh Hashana and it was one of the years when the festival fell on Wednesday night so it meant no coming to school Thursday and Friday which were the last two days of term. I had to leave work for my students and as about 11 students in the class of 23 or so were Jewish my head teacher asked me to ask how many people were going to come to school on those days because she would then decide to maybe collapse another class also with a far few Jewish students into the one class. Every kid who was Jewish had decided that it was too good an opportunity to miss and would not be coming to school except these two kids a boy and a girl who were friends. They were coming to school. So I said to them, ‘I know that it is none of my business and you do not have to answer if you don’t want to, but do you celebrate Rosh Hashana in your family at all?’ The young lady sat up rather straight in her chair and gave me a deeply pitying look. She glanced at her companion who was smiling also in a very sympathetic and sad manner at me. she flicked her hair to one side, half closed her eyes and then said with a little shake of her head, ‘We are culturally Jewish.’ her friend echoed her remark and restated it.’Yeah we are Jews by culture.’ I started to laugh. Even today when I think of these two kids and the whole thing, I laugh. For me, being Jewish is far more than culture. It is an absolute connection to something divine that I don’t understand how to explain. People like Danny will just think I am somehow lost in my own little popsicle land (it is a happy little land, more than what is out there in the rest of the world) but I feel it is what makes my life worth while and yeah it does keep me sane and life is never boring.

  • frosh says:

    Abc,

    A couple of questions for you:

    1) Do you have any real evidence that it would be beneficial for the community to sink even more money into the private Jewish day school system?

    2) Do you or any of the other people who advocate sinking millions more into the private school system ever consider the opportunity cost of such funding.

  • Jonny says:

    Wow… ABC… very harsh no?

    Your comment is exactly the guilt-trip trap that every young Jewish parent is susceptible too. Shameful.

    ABC, I would not have normally responded. David and Ilana said it all … but your 1980’s view is the motivation for this entire movement.

    The Glen Eira vision is about liberating any parent’s previous in-grained guilt ridden despair about exactly what you’ve written into absolute hope! And not just false hope or belief… real and genuine Jewish expression of what can be achieved if we change our mindset, efforts and approach. To take real steps to meet our our needs and not wait for others to solve them for us.

    Suggesting there is a first class or second class way of doing Jewish education is not just insular, haughty and dangerous, it’s very sad.

    This new approach is just different to yours and it will be great!

    The Glen Eira model highlights that we could not be luckier or better serviced in Melbourne for Jewish Education outside of school hours. OMG… We have AMAZING services in all dimensions for families – orthodox, liberal, secular and everything in between – from cradle to grave.

    So any family should be absolutely confident they can give their kids an excellent and full Jewish Education without having to become a handout receipent in the private school system.

    For limited example:
    Hebrew: At Glen Eira… Lamdeni… VCL…
    Social needs: In-school at Glen Eira and UJEB – outside school at Maccabi, Ajax, Youth Groups, Interests Groups, Chabad, Spiritgrow, Temple Beth, Choirs, Playgroups and on and on and on…
    Yom Haatzmaut with a sea of blue and white: All Jewish youth movements make this their core ambition. This year’s Yom Haatzmaut at Luna Park was AWESOME, at night with hundreds of families! And to think many private school kids won’t go to youth movement because they’re so swamped by Judaism during the week. To the point that the Private Schools had to in-source informal education when it is FREE on the weekend – driven by wonderful, young amazing volunteer madrichim who run amazing camps at least twice a year!
    Pesach seders: any after school provider or shul: you can go to 17 different seder versions in one week in Melbourne! Progressive, Orthodox, Mizrachi, Chabad, Conservative, Israeli, Hippy, Yuppy…
    Jewish values… limitless services – we love spiritskool!
    Purim parade, sukkot, chanukah, simchat torah, shavuot: Any synagogue that a family commits to; any movement; or social club… you can pick and choose!
    Lamdeni’s Purim is one of the great community calendar events in Australasia!! Spiritgrow’s Purim couldn’t be more meaningful!
    Yom Hashoah: In school at Glen Eira; Monash Uni, Jewish Cemetaries all of our wonderful museums…
    Jewish Texts: Any learning institution would love to have you before or after school; and any young Rabbi would love to teach you – one to one.. small groups… you design it!

    And the students in this model also get the benfit of actually learning from their Muslim friends about Eid and teaching them about Rosh Hashana. They share values like charity and good deeds, they get to watch and understand the Hindu celebrations and explore the difference between polytheism and monotheism, they engage with their christian and catholic friends about common heritage and divergent views, and they can also meet people from every corner of the globe who are everything from buddhist to baptist. From Finland to Japan, Indonesian to Canadian…

    If you want to and can create funds for subsidies and hand outs that are sustainable and dignified I will absolutely support you. No issues.

    My research says $500 million will not be enough in the current system. It will drain investment in every other dimension of our community life; it will not stop families feeling anxiety about having more children because of educaiton costs; and the governance, administration and humanity in such a fund will be a nightmare. But please start today! Many people stuck in the view you’ve shared want that.

    Please don’t judge what is or isn’t a proper Jewish education simply because of what you or your family are used to.

  • abc says:

    Jonny,

    I’m not quite sure why my view is “1980’s”, but yours is certainly 1930’s. Your latest post makes clear that you’re proposing sending kids to a non- Jewish school and they can get all the Jewish life after school. That’s how we ran education three generations ago, and there’s a reason that communal visionaries struggled and campaigned to change that model.

    I went to a non-Jewish school. I grew up with my Jewish life “after school” and as a result a compartmenatlised view of my life and my two, separate worlds. Thankfully, my children went to Jewish schools, and live one, holistic, existence, with Jewish and general components, though they would not classify them as such.

    I’m sorry if it’s sad to say that there are more and less effective ways of providing Jewish education. It’s also true.

    Again, I say well done on what you have achieved. I agree with David that competiton will force the Jewish schools to sharpen their act (though they can never compete with the public schools on cost). But please don’t claim that your model provides the same effectiveness in nurturing Jewish knowledge, Jewish identity and Jewish continuity as that which the Jewish schools are offering today.

  • Jonny says:

    ABC… the difference is that Glen Eira are offering Hebrew and other supportive services in-school hours with UJEB coordinating social events on campus at GEC… This is 2012 not 1930…

    Is it a private school model? No? Never will be. But it also has great benefits beyond just being free of crippling costs – including being must mnore able to create your child’s package of services rather than having them them pre-packaged.

    I have no issues with you being proud of your parenting. I just don’t think Private Day School parents should try to scare or guilt other parents with the “this is what I have and you should keep up with me” one-up mentality.

    You obviously grew up as a very proud and informed Jew without Jewish Day Schooling… I went to both Jewish and State school. I loved both. I consider myself privilieged to have experienced both.

    Take your own initiatives… just please don’t attack, discourage or condescend others.

  • Jonny says:

    Just to invite everyone…

    Topic: What is the ideal way of delivering Jewish education?

    Blake Street Shul is hosting a panel discussion this Saturday night. Chaied by John Searle – Founding President of the Blake Street Hebrew Congregation, and Chair of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.

    On the panel:
    Michele Bernshaw – Principal at The King David School,
    Len Hain – 28 year treasurer of Mizrachi and Yavneh College;
    Hilton Rubin – Previous principal of Mount Scopus and Yesodei Hatorah;
    Yossi Goldfarb – President of United Jewish Education Board.
    I have also been invited to be on the panel.

    The panel discussion is for Shavuot, starting at 8:30 pm on 27 May.

    Contact the office on 9530 0685 for details

  • abs says:

    It’s a bit sad (and quite revealing) that the response to my points is accusations that I’m trying to “scare” and “guilt” and to say “keep up with me” (especially when I’ve said that I wasn’t fortunate enough to go to a Jewish school myself!).

    Why don’t you respond to my main point by saying whether you think that the experience at a non-Jewish school (even one that offers Hebrew and Religion & Society VCE) is the same as the experience at a Jewish school? Whether celebrating Purim as an add-on at the end of the day is the same as seeing how that day, and each significant day of the Jewish calendar transforms the entire day at school?

    The question is whether Jewish life is for after school and weekends, or for, well, life?

    Please don’t show your weakness by accusig me of trying to “guilt” people (if that’s a verb). But actually enter into the debate.

  • Frosh,

    No-one has any “evidence” of the effectiveness of Jewish school education. As the research has already shown, it’s just one of many factors that drive Jewish continuity. Equally, it is impossible to quantify the opportunity cost of Jewish school education.

    We will probably only know the result of these macro changes in 20+ years, and even then it will be impossible to look back and say “what if?”

    GELC does not offer as rich (no pun intended) a Jewish education experience as a all-Jewish private school, and no-one should claim it does. Is the Jewish school system sustainable in its present form? I doubt it. Watch this space as there are developments in that area as well.

    Bottom line: we are all wrong, and we are all right, so there’s not much to be gained from vigorous attacks on these “pages”.

    Here’s a question for parents who take the GELC path: compared to a private Jewish school, you are “saving” many thousands of dollars per year. Will you use spend (invest) some of this in supplementary Jewish studies for your child? Or do you feel the “free” (taxpayer/donor funded) options are entirely sufficient?

  • abc says:

    It’s a bit sad (and quite revealing) that the response to my points is accusations that I’m trying to “scare” and “guilt” and to say “keep up with me” (especially when I’ve said that I wasn’t fortunate enough to go to a Jewish school myself!).

    Why don’t you respond to my main point by saying whether you think that the experience at a non-Jewish school (even one that offers Hebrew and Religion & Society VCE) is the same as the experience at a Jewish school? Whether celebrating Purim as an add-on at the end of the day is the same as seeing how that day, and each significant day of the Jewish calendar transforms the entire day at school?

    Whether it’s better for 11-year olds to be teaching their Muslim friends about Rosh Hashanna, or learning about it, and experiencing it in school for themselves?

    And whether we can expect 11-year olds to be teaching their Muslim friends about Yom Hatzma’ut?

    The question is whether Jewish life is for after school and weekends, or for, well, life?

    Please don’t respond to my questions by accusing me of trying to “guilt” people (if that’s a verb). But please actually enter into the debate.

  • Yaron says:

    abc,
    There is no evidence in any of the studies (including Gen08) that a Jewish school helps Jewish identity in any way. It is the home environment that is the determining factor in most cases.

    Your arguments do not stack up. What is stopping a parent from taking them out of school for Purim? It would then be up to the parent to make the day significant.

    If you are truly fearful of any non-Jewish influence you are welcome to relocate to a closed Jewish environment that exists in Israel or America.

    Oh yeah, and make sure the internet is not let in to your home.

    David,
    You are right, there is no evidence that Jewish education works, yet rather than admit that we were wrong and find a better solution we keep throwing all our community resources at the system. Definition of insanity, or just resigning ourselves to the fact that nothing can be done?

  • abc says:

    Hello? Who said anything about being afraid of non-Jewish influences? What’s the relevance of closed environments in Israel or America?? And the internet?? What’s that about??

    Any chance of keeping to the topic?

    “Taking them out of school for Purim”. That’s my point exactly. In a non-Jewish school you have to make the choice – one world or the other – with all the messages that gives to the child. In a Jewish school there’s just one world – with all the messages that that gives.

    And “there is no evidence in any of the studies that a Jewish school helps Jewish identity in any way”. Please! You’ve read every study?

    After about a nanosecond on google I found a summary of 16 studies at http://www.peje.org/docs/ResearchStudiesImpact.pdf – many (but not all) of which make clear the positive correlation between attendance at a Jewish Day school and Jewish identity.

    This debate is critical. I’d venture to say that it’s amongst the most important topic discussed on Galus, if not the most important, since it impacts on our future as a community and as a people. So please, can we have constructive, relevant and accurate contributions.

  • Understanding School Impact says:

    Hi All

    The most obvious, recent and relevant piece of work on the impact of JDS attendance is the Gen08 report which has been referred to a number of times on this forum.

    It is clear from that study that the home environment, as Yaron suggests, is the strongest factor by far in forming Jewish identity. That being said, when the school compliments the message being given in the home the report does suggest that it can have a positive impact – it is certainly not the be all and end all, but it can be a positive influence on Jewish identity (irrespective of the ‘nature’ of the message – e.g. Orthodox, Reform, Cultural etc).

  • abc says:

    One of the (many) flaws in the Gen08 methodology, is it bases its judgements about the impact of Jewish schools on answers from those who participated – who may have gone to school 50 years ago. The schools today are not like they were then. In particular, the Jewish Educational and the Informal Education in my kids’ school has been transformed over the recent decades.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    I have to say that I find this statement guilty of assumptions by the author:

    Why don’t you respond to my main point by saying whether you think that the experience at a non-Jewish school (even one that offers Hebrew and Religion & Society VCE) is the same as the experience at a Jewish school? Whether celebrating Purim as an add-on at the end of the day is the same as seeing how that day, and each significant day of the Jewish calendar transforms the entire day at school?

    Without being unpleasant or pointing the finger, I am going to say I abhor the arrogance of the author of this statement, not the author. As a parent of a child who was in the kinder of private Jewish day school several years ago and who had intended that her child go through the Jewish Day School system but had her child treated like a piece of dreck by a teacher in the kindergarten and who was bullied unmercifully by older students in the school who taught him the most foul language and said the most foul things to him so that this kid unfortunately does have some psychological difficulties in coping now and it has taken me and dedicated teachers at a state school several years to get him to the state where he sits down and learns and believes he can learn after a year of neglect and abuse from a culturally rich Jewish day school education experience. I did not see it at the time, because I was and still am a single parent. I had trust in the school and their duty of care which was betrayed quite savagely.
    People had made some interesting assumptions about me and my mental state, the state of my family and assumptions about what I do with my free time because of the following:
    1. I am an older single mother, I had my son while married to my ex husband,(we were married six years), at 49 years of age after five years of IVF. Unfortunately I did not realise that my ex only wanted Australian residency which came through at the start of my pregnancy, so it resulted in him divesting himself of excess baggage which included a white pregnant Jewish Australian wife who was five years older than him anyway. He decided to make his life alone.
    2. I have lived alone basically and have been raising my child by myself for the past nearly nine years now. I live a pretty tame existence but that was not good enough for the good people of the private Jewish school he attended. They made up a lifestyle for him and I which was ‘morally decadent’ and I have been slammed left right and centre and when a friend said to me once, ‘Please be careful Ilana,’ They want to have you certified and your child taken away from you because they are saying you are an unfit mother.’ I wondered what the hell she was talking about. After the recent receipt of some rather savage and slanderous emails from a person who will remain anonymous because she knows who she is,I now know why. Some of the parents and teachers get top marks for imagination. Trouble is it is garbled rubbish about a situation they know little about.
    3. Now yes, I am an older single parent. My son’s father is not Jewish. He has little if no contact with his father. That does not make my son a bad person or a potential psychopath as this same kinder teacher tried to tell me that my son has the makings of a psychopath and little empathy for others. Perhaps it has to do with the lack of empathy she showed him when she neglected his needs as a four year old boy in the kinder and treated him like he did not exist or a piece of dreck. Yes, he is the child of a Jewish convert who had a child to a non Jewish husband, but he is being raised as a Jew, an Orthodox Jew despite the crap from both sides of the divide. You know I have not felt so bad on receipt of these emails I received recently which spewed abuse in my direction since the time when I used to light Shabbat candles in my non Jewish husband’s house. When he and his friend returned from the pub they would use my candles to light their cigarettes from and when I asked them quietly and civily not to do that, his friend would snuff the candles out with his fingers and my ex did not say a word of rebuke to him. It was only once another friend, also non Jewish, was shocked by their actions and apologised to me and relit the candles for me with his lighter. At least one of his friends had a decent streak. Most of them were probably laughing behind my back at his infidelities and what ever else he got up to.
    That is a diverging however from what I am about to say. If I had been in receipt of even a multi million dollar income, I doubt it would have made much difference to the way my son was treated. there is an element at that school which is quite frightening in its bullying behaviour. I got a phone call from a mother who is quite well off and her son who is a bit older than my son, had been poked with sticks and treated in a literally abominable manner. The powers to be at that school did not deal effectively with it and it was left to the parents who luckily had the financial resources to back them to support and heal their son. I heard of another boy who was known as a very bright boy who at 11 years of age, suddenly went off the rails and his academic progress declined and he went a bit ‘crazy’. He is from a very well known and good family.
    I have not heard the same stories about other Jewish day schools on that scale. There is always a bit of bullying at schools and it depends on how those in authority deal with it. To say that there is never bullying, makes you a deluded fool. It is human nature and quite childish but some remain childishly entrenched their whole lives. Schools that have the welfare of their students uppermost in their policy statements and act on incidents to prevent damage to students are the ones to be admired and sought after.
    It does not matter if a student comes from a very impoverished background in a state school; they are supported in their learning. It matters very much in the private school system and as a person who did not go to a state school but private boarding schools, two in fact. I know first hand how cruel and nasty private school students can be. Six years of emotional and psychological hell and never feeling good enough and knowing my parents were poor compared to some of the very wealthy who sent their children to my boarding school. From the types of shoes you wore, whether your uniform was custom made or off the rack in Myers or DJs and whether you had a trannie and what type, where you went for holidays (then it was o/s to do Paris or London for a year with an allowance from Mummy and Daddy)and what sort of ball gown you could afford for the graduation ball or the Cardinal and Gold ball held every July and not being invited to the parties held on the weekends at the richer day pupils houses from the farming families or professional families in town and hearing how the High School kids were looked down upon and the worst insult you could get from another student was be called a “townie” or “like High School Hick” and being made fun of for many things related to wealth, I actually felt quite disgusted by the behaviour of many of the people I went to school with. Interestingly, the thousands of $ my parents spent in giving me that private boarding school education were wasted as I have had nothing to do with anyone or anything from either of my schools. I probably would have been better off at home being home schooled. The nearest High School was 140 kms away. What I learned about a social consciousness came from my parents’, grandmother’s and uncles’ extensive libraries. It also came from the respectful and honest way my father and gran (his mother) treated those who worked for them and how they respected as equals even the old deaf cowboy who had worked for my family since he was sixteen years of age. I learnt that every human being has value and dignity and respect of even a person who walks to your gate with a swag on his back is important. In the country there is not much to do of an evening so you read and read and learn. During the day you work. We have such an emphasis on rights with out responsibilities. We should also not focus on rites without responding to respect for others. It works both ways. I respect the rights of others who chose not to believe and not to attend a shule or celebrate festivals. Such persons are always welcome to join me for a meal or celebration, but I would ask that they do so respectfully. After all I do not go to their celebrations to stir up trouble. I just do not go. Period.
    I have a broad life experience and have known good people with high school educations and not so good people. I have met some real pigs with private school educations and you are horrified to think that these people despite their opportunities in life and family support are totally callous, vicious and predatory animals who use and abuse others because of a sense of entitlement and justify their abuse with all sorts of self serving arguments. They actually get joy out of the abuse of others. Not so much so in the public school system and in some private schools that underpin their school mission statements with CARING for others high on their list. I have by the same token met some wonderfully caring and gorgeous individuals who have private school educations. Unfortunately unless they have really had to fend for themselves during their life, they will find it difficult to understand or empathise with those whose mothers or fathers have had to scrape and save to give their children the basics. You hear such comments along the lines of, if they don’t have money they should not have kids. Does that mean, having children has become the sole prerogative of the upper middle class and wealth? What an absurd idea. Some of us are prepared to make sacrifices to have children and we have life experiences that put us in positions beyond our control. Does that mean that if we end up as single parents we should have our child or children wrenched away from us and given to people more worthy because they are financially better off?? Some people have wealth and position, but that does not necessarily make them honest, appropriate role models or parents for a child. But they do breed and we live in an imperfect world, a state of flux where we try to improve ourselves and to impact positively on those around us. We have no right to say that poor people should not have children. Every child that comes into this world is a gift from G-D. They deserve to be treated as such. By the same token, every child that comes into this world has a right to a decent education that is in keeping with parental beliefs and situation in life.
    What Jonny has done is pretty amazing and I feel the Jewish students at Glen Eira College and the Non Jewish students will be enriched because of it. It teaches tolerance. Isolating all Jews into Jewish schools breeds a sense of us and them that serves to create distance rather than understanding. We live in a non Jewish world that can be both openly and covertly hostile to us. We need to create peace. Not all Jews are Chabad niks, or even Chassidim, not all Jews are Litvaks, not all Jews believe (or they say they don’t) in a Divine Creator, not all Jews are Shomer Shabbat or even shomer mitzvoth, but ironically whether they believe or not, Jews are connected to a divine Creator that non Jews will recognise for better or worst, even if the yidden do not.
    In the Jewish festivals, we speak both on Pesach at the seder and at Succot about the four types or kinds of Jews and Jewish personalities. That can be broken down even further into forty or four hundred. There are laws set out at great length in the Talmud about interactions with both Jews and Non Jews.
    As a Jewish convert, I feel it is my duty to live a life righteously and according to halacha. I, more than anyone as a Jewish mother, can not do anything to endanger the spiritual health as well as the mental and physical health of my child. When I saw what was being done to my child, I knew the best course of action was to take him out of the system where he was being damaged because of prevailing attitudes. It hurt me to do so, because I did want to have a Jewish education for him and one that was all encompassing. I have accepted the fact that he probably will not go into a Jewish Day school unless I win a major literary prize and become in great demand as a writer. There are a lot of people vying for that honour. According to the vicious emails I got recently, my writing is drivel and I am a loser and she will see that I will never be employed by an educational institution again and that I will never be able to show my face in the Jewish community. What bought on this rather ranting vicious attack, who knows? It is all in the head of the person who wants for some reason to rip me down and spread vicious stories about what I am supposed to have done or not done and if that is an example of what a good Jewish education does to some, than I am so glad that most of my Jewish friends who are religious and even the ones who are not religious but had Jewish day school educations, they have all had some balancing influence that does not make them so narrow minded and insular in their outlook and allows them to see people positively.
    I also have many associates and friends around who happen to be non Jewish and they are fine people. Being Jewish for me is something to live up to and not down. I do not see the need to tear down others to make them appear little whether it is through lies or not.
    Caring for others means that you see their successes as yours when you teach a group of students. When they do well you feel proud to know that you had a part in that success, in being one of the many legs of their support system. It even goes into caring for a friend and wishing them success in their life and life’s projects. Not one person in this life is an island unto him or herself. The ones I worry about are those who will select the weaker students to bully and deride and tear down others who they see as not ‘worthy’ or good enough. If you see your role as an educator is to deride or belittle others because they cannot do what you do or you feel that only the wealthy have a right to a certain style or type of education, then you really have a problem. Education is about learning from others, from life experiences and not just from books. You can give yourself an ivory tower existence which is safe and peaceful but extremely divorced from reality and compassion for others. But it is not a true reflection of the life experience as lived by the majority. Only through appropriate and an all encompassing approach to education can we change this world into a better more liveable place for each and every one of us. Education is to broaden the mind and give it strengths and to help the individual look at the broader picture in life. Education reaches out and it is not a self centred experience of patting oneself on the back. To educate requires one to share knowledge and facilitate the use of that knowledge to others for any number of reasons, all of them positive and to help the youth develop and move on into the future with hope.

  • Jonny says:

    @abc says “not to provide an alternative that is the palest of reflections of what a Jewish Education is.”
    “I’m sorry if it’s sad to say that there are more and less effective ways of providing Jewish education. It’s also true.”

    It’s funny how some people write offensive, baseless things on this blog and then seem surprised that other people are offended or defensive!?

    ABC it is you who are off topic. The Glen Eira vision doesn’t solve the Jewish Day School problems. It has never aimed to solve those problems and frankly the movement has nothing to do with Jewish Day Schools. It has never has had anything to do with the Jewish School system which is a great system servicing people that want and can afford what the private schools offer!

    The Glen Eria movement is about solving the State School problems of better servicing the needs of more than 600 Jewish families that will use State Seconday Schools next year and many many more families in Primary Schools planning their Secondary Schooling. All of generation X’s children are coming to secondary school age and the State system must be ready for them.

    Is this model better or worse that Day Schooling – I don’t know and frankly the point is not relevant to this initiative.

    Those who choose to use the State system need thoughtful options as David said. And they need care, as Ilana said. And they need family involvement as Yaron said.

    And on behalf of the community the GEC movement-team has responded strongly and successfully in a very short space of time and without costing anyone anything.

    The GEC model will be a great way for all those families, including mine, to give their kids everything needed to be proud and active Jews in Melbourne. Well rounded, well balanced, well integrated, well informed leaders. And I encourage anyone who is interested in the model to use it with confidence, proactivity and pride.

    Thanks to everyone for their supportive comments!!

  • letters in the age says:

    Great idea chaps!!!

    Cheers

    Wow Illana….stay strong!!

    ;;)

    hugs xoxox

  • abc says:

    It’s very frustrating trying to have a discussion when people don’t respond to each others’ question (or, at least, when people don’t respond directly to mine). That is why I very rarely comment on blogs and why this will probably be my last contribution on this one.

    But I’ll try to identify the main issues nevertheless, by asking Jonny some direct questions.

    1. Does the Free Jewish Education “Movement” believe that the arrangement with GEC makes it the equivalent of a Jewish day school? I ask because I think I recall that you were quoted in the AJN as saying that the arrangement would make it “almost a replica of the Jewish Day School experience” (apologies if I’ve remembered incorrectly). Yet now you’re saying that it’s nothing to do with Jewish Day Schools.

    2. Whatever the answer to the previous question, do you believe that the arrangement with GEC provides an effective Jewish education and builder of Jewish identity and commitment as the Jewish Day School experience?

    You may say that this question is irrelevant; I think it’s highly relevant to thousands of families who may have various options, and would want to know what’s the “best”. I understand that you find the question offensive but I don’t know why. If I hire any service, from a plumber to a teacher, I want to know that I’m getting the best and most effectibe that I can. Given that there’s nothing more important than the Jewish identity and commitment of my children, I certainly want to know what’s the best available.

    Of course this question cannot be answered definitively; there are too many variables, especially in what is a very human, and therefore fallible, system. But one can still make an assessment on the balance of probability.

    3. Given that I’m sure you’ll answer “yes” to question 2, could you try and substantiate it.

    4. I accept that our difference of opinion may revolve around the question of what education and set of experiences is needed “to be a
    proud and active Jew in Melbourne” as you claim that GEC will enable your children to be. Perhaps you can help the debate by articulating more what is a “proud and active Jew” so that others can ascertain whether your model will enable their children to be the “proud and active Jews” that they themselves envisage.

    Thanks

  • Yaron says:

    abc,
    Although I am not involved allow me to take the liberty of answering your questions:

    1. This will be whatever the parents want it to be. As I said if the parents want their children to have a Purim experience they can take the child out of school.

    The parents will have to be more active, rather than hand the school $20,000 and their child and assume that Purim will be celebrated in an appropriate manner.

    Therefore it could be a better system or a worse one than a day school. It is what the parents make of it.

    2&3. These questions are irrelevant.

    The school is there to provide an educational framework. The family is there to provide the emotion and world views that go with that framework.

    If the parents of a child show disdain for the religion no informal education program in the world can help with the child’s Jewish identity.

    4. Again why do we have to deliver the answers to these questions? That is for each parent to decide. The GEC program will provide a framework and each family will decide how to utilise the program with their own unique outlook.

  • Jonny says:

    Thanks so much Yaron!! Spot on! Yaron I don’t know who you are but I appreciate the support and summary. abc please take Yaron’s answers as representative of my views.

    abc I feel I have answered these core questions in my previous responses. The rest are deep philosophical questions way to complex to answer in this format. And if I tried I fear you would simply quote any word back to me and keep asking for more in order to try to find fault and judgement…

    May I ask in return…
    Why are you so threatened by the concept? And why are you blogging anonymously if this is the most critical of issues to you?

  • abc says:

    Jonny,

    I’m posting anonymously because I’ve seen too many individuals get flamed on Galus and I’m not interested in that happening to me.

    I’m not threatened (there you go impugning motives again) but I am of the opinion that the Jewish world, and the continuity thereof has been transformed by Jewish Day Schools, and that the very high proportion of Jewish children in Jewish Day Schools that we have in Melbourne is responsible for the success and growth of the community, in contradistinction to so many other Diaspora Communities. I think the threat of intermarriage is greater than ever before, and we need to do our very best to bolster Jewish identity, and that Jewish schools play a vital (but certainly insufficient) role in furthering that aim.

    Therefore it is not me threatened by your presenting a non-Jewish school as a viable alternative to a Jewish school; it is the community itself.

    I’m disappointed, but not surprised, by your refusal to answer my questions. For someone using this forum to promote his revolution which can have such far reaching consequences, I think it would be right for us to expect you to articulate the vision fully, and especially to explain why the new model can achieve as much as the old model.

    You’ve chosen not to because you “fear” that I might quote your words back at you. Well, if you have a strong case then there’s nothing to be afraid of, but obviously you think otherwise.

    There’s not much point in continuing this discussion and I won’t be doing so.

  • frosh says:

    Abc,

    It is YOU who has avoided MY questions.

  • Jonny says:

    Thanks for your interest abc. I make not like your expressions but I appreciate your passion and your fears.

    Please reread what I wrote earlier – of course I believe in the identity building that will occur at GEC, of course it is not “the same” as a Day school – but that doesn’t make it better of worse.

    And of course the costs of Jewish Day schooling makes the current model as inaccessible as buying a new car for each child every year for 12 years. I have 5 children…do the maths.

    I have chosen to be very public, open and available and can be accessed in all sorts of ways. Happy to talk properly. I of course live locally. I am on the panel on Saturday night at Blake Street. Please come to the session. I am also the Chairman of Spiritskool, the Jewish mediatation, yoga and cooking school at Spiritgrow.

    To conclude:

    1. I am fully in favour of the JDS system. I love it. It’s great. Anyone who is reading, don’t be discouraged to attend the JDS if you have the interest and wealth.

    2. GEC provides a brand new framework and the movement will be driven by those interested; and I believe the parents will do amazing things.

    3. Talk is easy and infinite so I have to reaffirm that dozens of people have committed time, energy and expertise to getting the current programs up and running and I am extremely grateful to them.

    4. 7 more kids are doing Hebrew in School hours than would have without this initiative. Remember these were kids not in the JDS system to start with… they were already enrolled at the School, and many more wanted to do it but the logistics were too complex.

    Good evening all.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    @ abc what an interesting and self centred approach. I guess when you were in school if the teacher did not choose you when you raised your hand, you probably stopped raising it.
    Debate is a fluid element in discussion and it is good to hear from others rather than long winded old ratbags like myself. However I rather dislike your defeatist attitude.

    It’s very frustrating trying to have a discussion when people don’t respond to each others’ question (or, at least, when people don’t respond directly to mine). That is why I very rarely comment on blogs and why this will probably be my last contribution on this one.

    I actually think the educational experience at GEC will be richer in some ways than the Jewish Day School system provides in some schools. I believe Yavene School and Scopus probably provide the broader based educational experience but on one score GEC will beat them. That is in providing Jewish students whatever their academic ability with a level of care and a sense of pride in being Jewish and proud of their heritage in a non Jewish setting. Going to a non Jewish school does not necessarily lead to intermarriage, nor does it mean a lack of interest in their Jewish heritage. A lot of their attitude towards Jewish pride and connection comes from the home. There are two people in the Jewish community, well liked and well respected people who spent time in a state school. Rabbi Mordechai Shzmerling and Rabbi Yosef Gutnick. I would not say that there is anything flawed or wrong about their sense of Jewish identity. There are also others and to be honest there are some people who have come out of some Jewish schools with a dislike of their religion and heritage and that is sadder. Imagine putting your kids through a school at $20,000 plus and he comes out hating you and what you stand for, hating religion. But interestingly enough, it is like the catholics who come out of the Catholic school system hating the church but, hey where do they send their kids? Yeah, you got it. To the same Catholic day school that they hated so much and if you ask them why, they say it is because the Catholic Day School system is better and the discipined approach is good for the character of their children.
    I prefer to think that we should have a good public education system in Australia and that the government should put a lot more money into the education sector (as well as health and rural development). State schools should not be poor cousins to the private schools. By the way there are a lot of state schools that are much better than the majority of schools in private system and there were many more before Kennett got stuck into the Victorian educational sector. I remember the Richmond Secondary College and others now closed. Victoria had one of the best student teacher ratios and students welfare was upper most. It still does have a very good reputation.
    Elitist education does create a sense of entitlement which I personally dislike. I also dislike the patronising attitude of some of those involved and that can be present in a NSW selective school or Kings or the Brisbane Church of England Grammar school. You get a wealthy school with a lot of very moneyed people sending their children there and if they are paying $5,000 plus a term for their child’s education they expect something for it. Unfortunately there are parents sending their child to a state school and they also expect something for it.
    You can have the best teachers and school facilities can be state of the art, but if you have a home environment that does not support education or educational goals, you will be lucky if your child will. The same goes with Jewish education. If you do not support Jewish educational values and practise what you preach to some extent, how can you expect your child to do so. I value my child’s educational experience and particularly his Jewish educational experience. I want it to be a positive and inspiring element in his life. I want him to be proudly Jewish and to espouse values inherent in a Jewish education that go beyond the surface veneer. I want him to like himself as a Jew and to know his history and heritage. To enjoy it and to practise his faith with respect and respect for others who are not Jewish. Once we start demeaning others, and sending our child to an educational institution for flimsy surface reasons, then we lose sight of the truth of the educational path. Education in and of itself is a valid goal. To say that you want your child to have a grounding in a Jewish setting and to be immersed in a twelve year long or thirteen year long Jewish educational experience that will set the ground rules for a life as a Jewish person proud of him or herself is also a very valid goal as much as those who do the opposite. Sometimes for a variety of reasons that goal of an exclusive education that is underpinned by religious or faith based values is not obtainable for one’s child. However, that does not mean you give up. The core values of Judaism are still all encompassing and valid for a non-jewish educational setting to support. They do embody respect for others no matter their origins or religion or gender. It is just sometimes the practice of the values and the interpretation of them is different for some people. I am being polite here. I think you will find the anomolies in all faiths or beleif systems. People who go to extreme lengths whether it is right of centre or left of centre.
    I actually think that for Glen Eira and the students it is a great thing. A subject I have always wanted to teach in Victoria is VCE Religion and Society. Some might find that boring, but it is a fascinating subject and one that discusses more than just the place of religion in society but looks deeper into ethical challenges and reasons for beliefs and also how important is faith to our sense of self.
    http://www.vcaa.vic.edu.au/vce/studies/religion/religionindex.html
    I written enough about this and must get back to some more creative writing. :-)

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    B’H

    That is it in a nutshell Jonny.

    The GEC model will be a great way for all those families, including mine, to give their kids everything needed to be proud and active Jews in Melbourne. Well rounded, well balanced, well integrated, well informed leaders. And I encourage anyone who is interested in the model to use it with confidence, proactivity and pride.

    @ Letters to the Age
    Strength…seven years surviving in Israel on my own taught me heaps and gave me some character building experiences. One day I will get back there.
    :-) It is where we should live eventually. I speak for myself and my son.

  • Jonny says:

    Thanks Ilana

    I’m also a psychologist and there are two schools of thought about identity building that I understand:

    Should you stay in a conext where everyone is just like you, same beliefs, same values, same history: where what you already know and believe is protected and refinforced every minute of every day? Where the people “testing” you already believe in the same ideas you believe in?

    Or

    Is identity built by being amongst a wide diversity and having to defend and explain and review your own beliefs daily in front of those that don’t agree? By knowing what others believe and who others are, can you more definitively decide who and what you are?

    I am very impacted by the line in the old testament that says “Jacobs best years were in Egypt”: this statement alludes to deveopment of Jacob when he had left Israel; and represents this second view of outreach and self development – where you are defined and have to accept that you are different. And in doing so, you find youself.

    I had a an amazing education at Mount Scopus until year 9. And moving from Scopus to Mckinnon changed me forever for the better as a committed Jew for exactly this reasoning.

    For the first time I had to defend my beliefs and approach. I had to be able to explain why we would dress up and eat a buscuit shaped like our enemy’s hat on Purim; or why one day of oil lasting for 8 days had any relevance at all to real life.

    I had to consider why Jesus, as essentially a reformist Jewish leader, is revered by billions of people. I had to engage with Muslims about Yom Haazmaut and try to understand their interpretation of the Akeyda (Abhrahamic story leading to the sacrifice of Isaac – and of course the Ishmael and Hagar story).

    My children attend State school and every major Jewish festival I have them present to their class about what the festival is all about.

    It is amazing and complex to hear how they explain to their classmates about slaves leaving Egypt or why we eat Matzah. It’s really tough in front of a non-Jewish crowd! We should all try it!

    Similary our family recently got to watch and participate in some of the Dawali festival activities of their Hindu friends (Glenhunlty has a huge Indian population). Now that was an eye opener.

    My third child came home from Dawali and said, “Wow Dad, that was great. But I’m very happy we are Jewish…”

    I love the discussion. I love that we all care enough to bother… and look forward to more dialogue. :D

  • letters in the age says:

    Bless your heart Girl!!!!

    I couldn’t do it and that says a lot about the diaspora , we are all very, very different.

    Good luck with it all!

    ;)

  • letters in the age says:

    Great to see Monash Graduates that have empathy and aren’t cowboy mba wankers!!

    Sue me
    ;)

    Great stuff there and maybe a media feature on this initiative would be a great idea in the foreseeable future?

    Just saying peeps.

  • Jonny says:

    Hi Everyone

    I have reflected very seriously about the feedback from abc. He/She is right to be hard on people like me who are introducing ideas that have significant change implications.

    I have of course also had to answer many questions from many people about … well … everything. Some truly extraordinary, some sad, some liberating conversations.

    In response, and in preparation I have created an Information Sheet (1 pager) that outlines the strategic analysis underpinning my activities.

    I will be handing it out on Saturday night for those that can come to Blake Street. If you would like a copy, please email me directly on emmajonny@optusnet.com.au.

    I still maintain we all have to be very careful about judging what is better or worse for others; but I am also a person that cares about critique and is interested in a learning dialogue. So I appreciated abc (and others’ provocations), even if often I react to their language and presumptions.

    Chag Sameach all.

  • letters in the age says:

    Johnny

    Education used to be a right not a privilege

    Thanks for introducing that old cliche in your wonderful work!!

  • Jonny says:

    Thanks Lettrs… its nice way to summarise it!

  • Jonny says:

    For anyone still following this article. Summary from Saturday night at Blake Streets Shavuot Panel on “What cost for Jewish Education?”.

    1. I presented on the model defined here – running parrallel to the JDS but ppleading for leadership in the community to do more in the public school space where we are currently too inactive.

    2. The Principle of Kind David, Michelle, defended School fees, demonstrating they are not out of line with any other independent school.

    3. Len Hain rook it further with all the comparative rates aqnd percetages around funding and subsidies in the JDS.

    4. Hilton Rubin recommended we create a “no frills” school where all investment is in the Jewish Education elements not the peripheral wow factor elements.

    5. Yossi GOldfarb gave an empassioned clarification that the real cost of the JDS is over 1500 kids and their families in the community feeling like second class citizens. He called for an end to the competitive language of better or worse education and made it clea that for most of those (if not all) the JDS is simply inaccessible… “like pushing your face up to the glass and seeing what a great education system looks like, but not being able to participate”. He highlighted many failures of the JDS to modify their approaches for community needs. But overall he called for a collaborative and inteagred approach where everything abailable, including the GEC option which he and UJEB support, being maxmised! He received the most overwhelming support on the night and spoke from the heart.

    Chag Sameach.

    Jonny

  • letters in the age says:

    No probs!!

    :)

  • letters in the age says:

    Illana

    Your story is a classic case of jews that adopted the worst of both cultures and quite disturbing events i might say

    move on and dont let it get to you!!

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