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Schooling Haves and Have-Nots

June 15, 2012 – 9:00 am42 Comments

Bialik's state of the art swimming pool

By Leonie Ben-Simon

Out. How does one feel to be left out?  Not invited.  Not wanted.  Disenfranchised.

In Galus Australis that is precisely what we have managed to achieve.  We now have nothing but the best schooling for half of our children, leaving poor substitutes for the rest.   I am talking about schooling, Jewish schooling, full-time day school education.  It is a sad fact that more than half a century of community priorities has gone gung-ho into providing beautiful edifices for some children, the children of the decision-makers and their wealthy friends, whilst half a generation of Jewish children are not welcome on financial grounds alone.

This is not a question of whether a few hours of Hebrew and an hour of religious instruction are sufficient in a state school environment.  It is solely a question of the failure of the community as a whole to organise its affairs so that our schools are affordable. Other faiths have done it, but we have failed thousands of our children ­miserably.

As other economies teeter our community is living in a fools’ paradise because we really believe that the status quo with funding will continue for the next ten years, or probably forever.  The time has come to consolidate our own financial resources, to concentrate on the home front before worthy overseas causes and work towards eliminating administrative duplication. It may be that a financial crisis will hit our shores so before we lose any of our resources we should begin, right now. Our schools were not affected as badly during the last recession due to the South African migration.  I cannot see that we have any saviour on the horizon in the immediate future as we did previously, so it would be prudent to pull in our belts now and not later.

There is an international move by universities and tutoring colleges to transfer much of their education online with huge reductions in building and operating costs.  Our schools could partially copy these universities whilst at the same time solving the issue of insufficient quality teaching resources. We could share our valuable Jewish studies and other teachers online throughout all of our Australian schools as the technology is now mature and proven for such a venture, even selling such a service overseas.  This would enable fees to drop, increase enrolments and halt the competition for scarce resources i.e. teachers. It would also enable valuable material to be repeated to each class level year after year.

Every small child who misses out on being a Jewish child from morning till night, who does not live our Jewish calendar or understand our way of life is at risk of being one less family for our Galus.  Even with a poor substitute such as after-school lessons or a state school with Hebrew language immersion, these children know that they have been disenfranchised and feel themselves as second-class citizens, not really in the community. Often they are resentful of anything Jewish with the core of their identity quite different.

Most families under pressure to pay exorbitant school fees will crack at some stage through either missing out on family holidays, having to limit their family size or even having to withdraw children from their school simply because this community has not worked as one group towards making full-time Jewish education possible for all of our children.

I watch as a half-empty Bialik school bus trawls the same route as the Mount Scopus buses, when it could be full.  A logistical nightmare of wasted resources, repeated by multiple administrations in their many forms.  I see Jewish Studies talent being drawn away from one school to another to fill shortages both here and interstate.   I hear of State primary schools with their class lists bursting with Jewish names, of broken-hearted parents not being able to enrol their beloved children in Jewish schools, even though they are working.    I listen to families talking of school fees as “birth control.”  How can so many children be left out?

Is this really a Jewish community?

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  • letters in the age says:

    sadly the problem lies with the political class who enrol their kids at these schools and i know a few who like that it is exclusive

    who blames them when you have pools like that at Bialik??

    the problem lies with the attitude of parents who are wankerish in their attitudes

    excuse the slang but its the only way to describe it accurately

    i see free markets taking over education and pushing this business model to maintain a power base with some ambitious parents

  • Joe in Australia says:

    I suspect that amalgamating resources wouldn’t save very much. This is a huge problem and I don’t have any useful suggestions to make: the money is simply not there.

    Another problem is that our schools themselves are practically monocultures aimed at producing students for prestigious university courses. There are many kids who would be much better suited to vocational training, but they’re not really supported by the current system. From what I’ve seen the present strategy is to treat them as failures until they leave school, and then hope they move on to TAFE or something similar.
    There must be a better way of doing things.

  • TheSadducee says:

    This all comes back to a problem within the community generally – the community spirit as a whole is essentially dead.

    Wealthy Jews will not do anything more than token gestures to assist those less fortunate and will not shoulder the burden of assistance required in a community (as has been done historically btw) to sustain it and its members i.e. tzedekah.

    Why? Because modern life has split up the communities and people don’t have to associate with one another. The wealthy live together with their facilities, the poor whereever they can afford to with whatever they can get. Additionally, there is no feeling that there is an ethical/moral obligation for tzedekah.

    Hence we see failures in establishing schools, synagogues, kosher facilities, restaurants, genuine communities etc. The only people doing this stuff are the more religious communities (which are very tight-knit because of their minority and self-imposed ghettoization but believe/practice tzedekah) and then we see people complain about the preponderance of religious rabbis taking over the community structures etc.

    Put aside this, one also has to consider the immorality of sending one’s childrens to a place with facilities like that pictured above at enormous expense. Totally unnecessary and over the top facilities beyond the reach of the majority of the community and the Gentile community incidentally.

    solution? wealthier community members need to contribute more, the elite systems need to be pulled down and rebuilt at a more modest level with better quality teaching, greater utilisation of community resources is required eg. the preponderance of academics who argue about I/P issues could instead offer to assist with tutoring/teaching etc.

    I don’t want a religious model which has it own problems, but I want one where a genuine community exists where people aren’t judged by what their parents do, or live, but rather by their cooperation and mutual enrichment.

  • letters in the age says:

    correct sadduce

    status obsessed parents are a great parody for a comedy series

    i would assume that a jewish version of
    ” the slap “should be made pretty soon

    some would be amongst the bogan elite variety

  • Karl says:

    If you are saying “Golus” instead of “galut”….. you are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

    We are better off having sabra Cherkassit and filipinit kids build families in Israel, than any of you. I do not welcome you to Israel. Please stay in Australia!

  • Harry Joachim says:

    Karl – what on earth does your issue with the name of this blog have to do with the subject of the affordability of Jewish day schools?!

    Golus or Galut, Shabbat or Shabbos, it’s all the same religion… Sephardi, Ashkenazi, Orthodox, Reform – they’re all Jews and all have a right to a Jewish education without breaking the bank!

  • letters in the age says:

    The script is already being written with comments like that above

    hilarious stuff



  • Noah says:

    Rabbi Sacks made a funny, albeit a damning comment on the Jewish community: Jews multiply by division.

    We have multiple shules and schools because of seemingly important differences and demands.

    I guess it’s just human nature.

  • Doodie Ringelblum says:

    Hey Karl
    I say “Goles”.
    Also “Ikh hob dikh in drerd”.

  • R B says:


    An insteresting idea was heard at a panel held about this issue at the Blake Street Hebrew Congregation on Shavuot eve: What is needed is a no-frills Jewish school. We should bo back to the traditional Jewish approach of “education per se” rather than the current anglo-saxon-style snobbish and glitzy schools.

    Another source of funding can be the 20 million dollars, which are currenly raised every year for Israel. With all the respect and sympathy, a country which GDP per capita is at the level of South Korea, and is 8th in the number of millionaires among OECD countries (considering its size), can do without our hard-earned money, especially when we need it here.

    However, I disagree with the article about the usage of online teaching. This makes sense for uni students, but not for primary school or even high-school kids. They need a real teacher in front of them.

    R B

  • letters in the age says:

    Anglo saxon style

    an extension of the british public school system more likely?

    My goodness the grandchildren of the holocaust are moving away from their roots and become pretentious darlings who would end up like Kardishian hot princesses

    i see it happening in the 4th and 5th generation

    wake up peeps!!

  • Hungarian says:


    I think you paint too broad a stroke with the words we/community.

    The fact is there is one community that makes sure nobody gets left out. That is the Adass Community. Every single family in the extended Adass community is able to send their children to the Adass school! We manage that because we actually are a community.

    If everyone in the Greater Melbourne Jewish Community viewed themselves as a community and as a “WE” they would no doubt be able to achieve the same thing.

  • Ian Grinblat says:

    It seems to me that we are looking at the problem from the wrong end.
    The starting point has to be what parents want for their children and then (hopefully) the schools will respond to their changing market.
    It also seems to me that sufficient parents are satisfied by the prevailing expensive situation that we will see no change until governments announce that they are unable to fund private schools (which was never a good idea).
    If parents want their children to be immersed in a Jewish culture they may just have to do some heavy lifting themselves. And for those who don’t feel up to the task, perhaps UJEB may be able to offer them some sort of support. UJEB has done an amazing job over more than 100 years and the salient feature is its adaptability to the changing environment.
    Money is an unavoidable topic in this but I don’t think that our super donors deserve criticism because they are heavily committed to the schools.
    One final point – it may be reasonable to reconsider and perhaps reduce our commitment to Israel charities, but the work of UIA in absorbing Jewish refugees is true tzedakh.

  • R B says:

    Hi Ian,

    The current situation is a result of a sequence of developments along the years, and does not necessarily reflect what parents want now. Suppose that Jewish parents want a less expensive and less fancy school – can they simply establish one, in such a small community with diverse views and levels of observance? An initiative, common effort and cooperation of the Jewish community as a whole are reuqired here.

    And to the final point – forunately, there are no Jewish refugees at the moment, so funds can be used for non-emergency purposes… like Jewish education.

    R B

  • Jeremy says:

    The tone of this article is unfair. There is no doubt that the cost of private Jewish education in this country is a serious problem and that there are a growing number of families who will simply not be able to afford to send their children to a Jewish dayschool. It is not clear to me if the author has actually suggested a cause or is just generally blaming this on the “have’s”. It seems rather strange to me given that one of the reasons that school fees are so high is because at schools like Mount Scopus and Yanveh, up to 50% of students are on some sort of fee remission. This means that the families who are paying full school fees are actually subsidizing other families who have some sort of fee remission. The article also suggests that consolidation would necessarily result in a reduction of school fees. This debate has been going on for some time but the reason why this consolidation has not occurred is because the numbers simply don’t add up. Yes might be a one off gain from the sale of a property but the students who were previously attending that school would need to have appropriate accommodation at the other school which would come at cost. You would still need to employ roughly the same number of teachers to maintain class sizes. These costs are all ongoing and would not be significantly reduced.

    The real challenge is to convince donors to donate significant funds to the operation of the school rather than capital projects (ie: swimming pool referred to in the article). This is difficult but there is more talk at the moment of setting up a large school fund to subsidize all Jewish day schools. The figure that would need to be raised is enormous (hundreds of millions).

    I like the idea of a no frills Jewish day school but the problem is that once you have a dual curriculum and quality teachers the costs become significant. The swimming pools and drama centres are one-off costs funded by donors – they do not result in school fees increasing.

    It is a complex and difficult issue but turning the issue into some kind of class warfare within the Jewish community is unfair not an accurate representation of the issue.

  • letters in the age says:

    Class exits sadly and within that sociological context its unfair to say its not part of the complex problem and solution.

    If other groups namely the Greeks can do it why cant the Jewish diaspora?

  • frosh says:

    I disagree with the premise of the article, and in particular the importance placed on Jewish day schools.

    If the purpose of Jewish schools is to provide religious education, then this can be achieved through family participation in shul life.

    If the purpose is to provide Hebrew language education, then this can be achieved at Government schools, provided there is a critical mass of Jewish students who provide the demand for it.

    If the purpose of Jewish schools is to prevent ‘inter-marriage’, there’s no evidence that it does. See here.

    The last thing we want to do is further subsidise Jewish schools via charitable funds. This comes at an enormous opportunity cost. This money could be used far more efficiently to augment the Jewish education experience for students outside the Jewish day-school system.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Frosh – there is also the question of people being willing to accept charity to educate their kids. There is nothing wrong with accepting help when you need it, but if working people need help (charity) to educate their kids, that is unsustainable.

    And I don’t think Jeremy is correct that there is direct cross subsidy of fees among parents – Mt Scopus at least has always said that is not the case. Fees represent the unit cost (sorry, cant think of a better word) of educating a childand subsidies come from separate pools.

    It would be wrong if there were a direct cross subsidy for the obvious reason that it is in effect a standard tax for contribution to the subsidised population across the whole fee paying population when every family’s ability to contribute to such a tax is different . It would also be very wrong because there is absolutely no disclosure or transparency that it does happen.

    Clearly though there is an indirect subsidy in the sense that the larger the school, the more option it is able to provide in terms of subject choice and programs. I understand the school boards regularly consider questions like whether it would be better to have less “excellence” and fewer options and trimmings but be more inclusive. The difficulty for Mt Scopus, Bialik and King David at least is they are competing with private schools which are premised entirely on excellence or offering a great product, and aren’t concerned with inclusiveness (except for merit based scholarships – more excellence) – and that is the model the big Jewish schools have conformed to over time.

    I think the tone of this article is a shame because no-one set out to create Jewish schools that would be available only to ‘haves’ or people who are eligible for and willing to accept subsidised education. And the people who have shaped the schools have done so with great generosity and the right intentions – to provide a holistic Jewish educational experience to Australian Jewish kids. On top of that the financial support that people provide to the schools is extraordinary – and this article doesn’t acknowledge the generosity of many people who support the schools from building funds to fee subsidies .

    But that’s a huge part of the problem because we have as a community become so invested in the Jewish schools – as parents, and as ‘givers’ that it is difficult for people in the system to consider or find the energy and head space for other options even when faced with the reality of how exclusive Jewish schooling has become for many people, and how damaging it is to many families to keep their kids at Jewish schools at the expense of their financial security and of having more balanced lives.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    I meant the Jewish schools are competing with private schools which aren’t concerned with inclusiveness, not that the Jewish schools themselves are not concerned with inclusiveness.

  • Jeremy says:

    Frosh – I could be wrong but my recollection was that the Andrew Markus survey did show a direct link between Jewish Schools and Jewish continuity – albeit not as strong as was expected.

    Mandi – You raise a number of interesting points. The people who often end up missing out on access to the Jewish schools are the middle class families who are not eligible for sufficient fee remission. My understanding is that the ‘school fund’ that people are looking to form would actually focus on these people in the middle as the families who clearly cannot afford school fees are usually eligible for subsidies.

    Mount Scopus (and other schools) might say that those who pay full school fees do not subsidise others but it simply is not true. Money is fungible and it is easy for them to sell that message but do you seriously think that if there were no fee subsidies required, then school fees would be the same? It is also well known that school fees for primary school children subsidise the secondary school where the cost per student (because of the range of subjects offered etc) is much higher. This is also arguably unfair because if you only send your child in primary school, you don’t reap the benefit later on.

    I agree with your last paragraph that we need to start thinking more creatively about different alternatives not just for those who cannot afford but also for those who are not interested. Perhaps the new venture at Glen Eira College is where things will move….

  • frosh says:

    Hi Jeremy,

    I don’t have a copy of Prof. Markus’ study on me, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there were an associative link. However, I would be very surprised if he had established a causal link.

  • letters in the age says:

    I reiterate education is a right

    not a privilege

    I also respect parents that choose to send them to Jewish day schools with all its complexities good and bad

    Its a choice of living in this great state!!


  • Leonie Ben-Simon says:


    SEE THIS: Killester College Secondary School for Girls Springvale (Melbourne) Fees as per their website: $1800 per annum. Yes you read it right: one thousand eight hundred dollars per annum. This is not an isolated incident – it is an average for private Catholic Secondary Schools.

    How do they do it? Let me guess: The Catholic Church owns the school. Their financial structures can support all of their schools all over the State. Nuns teaching? That is a thing of the past.

    Then look at Adass in Melbourne. How do they do it? Community goodwill (and a firm belief in help from the Almighty.) Furthermore we have Yeshiva-Beth Rivkah Colleges in Melbourne who welcome each and every Jewish child (where the parents contribute what they are able to of course.) The Almighty is also very important in assisting them.

    So, what are the excuses for the rest of the community? I do acknowledge the generosity of our many donors and hard-working individuals contributing their share, but the organisational structure of the whole community is faulty in itself, not going in one direction. Even some of those who contribute are not coming up with the tens of millions required, although they could.

    We now have excellence in academia. We do accomodate students who go into the trades. There are scholarships available for some. Cross-subsidies are not the issue here, nor is the poor substitute of a part-time Jewish education within the State school system.

    There are many fundamental weaknesses in our underlying community structure that need to be recognised and taken into account when working upon a new model. The main ones are:

    1. The wealth from the (Holocause) Claims Conference payments is
    now coming to an end;
    2. Our fragmented fundraising approach does not favour local needs;
    3. We have not prepared for falls in the current funding for our
    4. The demographic of an increasingly elderly population hAneeds
    that are not being met by their children, plus there is a
    shortfall in their upkeep which is getting larger;
    5. We have allowed every group to set up their own schools with
    parallel administrations and facilities;
    6. Many of the generation with schoolchildren are on limited
    budgets due to being wage-earners and not in business;

    So, will we allow this issue to be buried in silence? Will we continue to lay the blame all over the place? Or will people of goodwill especially those on the roof body of the community stand up and reorganise everything into one Communal Appeal taking care of each and every Jewish child and for that matter anyone else who is in need?

    Although I am an optimist, if I were a betting person I would bet that nothing will be done until we witness a sudden and serious downturn in our collective community fortunes.

    So, is anyone out there prepared to take up the initiative to actually change the way our community operates?

    Leonie Ben-Simon

  • letters in the age says:

    Thanks Leonie!!

    Have a friend whose child went to a very good state school

    Now at a prestigious uni completing a great degree and is a well rounded child with great friends and a bright future ahead of them

    It can be achieved!!

  • MargB says:

    The sad reality is that Jewish education is not actually the priority of many families who send their kids to certain Jewish schools. I’m still picking my jaw off the floor after hearing a Scopus parent complain about the fact that one of their child’s school friends kept kosher – apparently if a family is that religious they should be sending their kid to Yavnah (!) As Leonie has correctly pointed out, new technology makes it relatively easy to establish online Jewish learning courses (Hebrew/Yiddish oral language classes could be augmented by Skype or web-conferencing technology; participants could get together every few months for a camp in the heart of Jewish Melbourne/Sydney/Perth). The question is how many families would be interested in taking up such an education.

    In my opinion and experience, formal Jewish education is pretty ineffectual unless a child grows up in a family that values and respects such education. I never attended a Jewish dayschool but grew up in a home that, although not religious, valued Jewish tradition and history. I am often surprised to discover that my Jewish knowledge is deeper than many who spent 13 years in the Jewish dayschool system.

    And that which I don’t know is usually only a Google search away. The internet may not be a complete substitute for a Jewish dayschool education but many organisations have structured educational programs and vaults of information available free of charge to anyone with an internet connection.

    I have also had fantastic online conversations with Jews around the world on all manner of topics. Jewish knitters, for example, have investigated and solved a question on the ‘kashrut’ of using a popular yarn made from crustaceans (it’s perfectly kosher to use and wear garments made out of non-kosher animals but as young children often chew or suck on their clothes it’s best to avoid using crustacean-based yarn for baby garments).

    Jewish education does not begin and end with dayschools. Rather a love of Jewish education begins in the home, with learning continuing throughout life.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    I am moving to the Gippsland to put my child in his third school. A smaller and very country primary school of 110 students. I started him at Yeshiva College because I had my heart set on a religious Jewish eduation and it was not really the schools fault but the prejudices and flaws in those who dealt with my son and it became not the best educational evironment for my son. He moved to a state school where we were very happy for some years, three and a half years to be precise. I will not go into details, as it is neither here nor there, but we are leaving the school for the following reasons.
    My son was bullied by another boy and his mates in a really cruel and vicious manner, in fact, in a shocking way. They told him things that could only have come from the slanted and prejudical views of parents. They told him,’Your mum is a lesbian and has a girlfriend.’ I am not and do not, but that is neither here nor there. They told him stories about his father and I will not go on as it is painful for me as well as him to have your child excluded and set upon and I have had enough of seeing him suffer without friends or mates. Yes, we are one of the few really observant Jewish families at the school but that does not put horns on our heads.
    I believe that if we have an observant home atmosphere and we celebrate our Jewishness positively as proud Jews that is worth more than any $22,000 a year education with all the additional trimmings. I have seen people come out of jewish schools being radically anti semitic and yet seen people with positive Jewish self images come from state school educations.
    I decided when my son came home from school with a bruise across his left thigh that had nearly broken the skin on his leg such was the vicious impact of this blow that I should be looking for another school that is far more friendly to him. No accident report and no one saw what had happened to him, yet he was limping when I picked him up from school. It was only when I got him home and he was undressed for the bath I saw the bruise on his little leg and gasped in shock. Who ever did this he does not want to say. He tried to bravely say that he fell. I took pictures as it was barely an hour before shabbes. He has said things to me that has made me aware that someone at the school has targeted him and in a very cruel and vicious way.
    Also we are being evicted from our flat because the owner is selling and looking at rents in the city I found that I could not get anything under $350 that was decent and possible around $400. also I have not had much work as a CRT and thus, I am moving to a town an hour away from Melbourne where we can get a three bedroom house with a yard for between $230 to $300, my son will go to a small country school where he is highly visible and I will have probably as much work as I want and peaceful surroundings without being bullied by brainless idiots who use violence for what ever reason.
    The quality of life is better, the quality of air is better. The people are simpler and straight forward country folk who call a spade a spade and are not half so ‘redneck’ or stupid as some of the ‘sophisticated city folk’ would like to believe.

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    Just a postscript to that. I do know the name of the child that bullied my son and he was pointed out to me and while I support my son in what has happened to him was wrong, my hands are tied. It was hard to explain to my son why I could not go up and give this boy a smack for what he did to him I could make it very plain that what happened to him was very very wrong. The awful thing is that this child is I believe Jewish and I wonder just want sort of Jewish homelife this kid has that he would do to another child what he did and continued the bullying in a vicious and violent way.
    Thank G-D I believe my take on jewish living is far more socially appropriate and peaceful.

  • letters in the age says:


    its called disfunctional families

    Move on !!


  • Shira Wenig says:

    Frosh, just to address one aspect you mentioned – I don’t think it’s fair to make a blanket statement that religious education can be provided through family participation in shul life. It all depends on what level of religious education you want for your kids.

    If you want your kids to be familiar with the basics of the parsha and the chagim, then yes regular shul attendance and participation in shul events might be sufficient; but if you want your kids to have a more comprehensive knowledge of a large range of texts, and the skills to further their own learning independently (including fluency in reading texts and mefarshim in the original) then you really do need a Jewish school. Or a lot of time on your hands, if you’re the kind of parent who can provide these skills yourself – but by the same argument you could also home school your child in English and maths.

  • MargB says:

    Shira – the difference with maths and English is that it is relatively easy to find a State school that teaches these subjects at no direct cost.I also disagree that you need a Jewish school to get a Jewish education. I am often surprised at the level of knowledge some of my non-Jewish friends have – it is deeper than many dayschool graduates

  • letters in the age says:

    The question to be asked is why do these schools justify their status as being jewish when all they really are to some degree a babysitting club for selfish and lazy middle class parents??

  • Marky says:

    Leonie Ben-Simon, re how catholic scools manage to keep their fees so low, in additition to your reasons, it’s important to remember they have at least 50 times as many members than we do

  • frosh says:

    Hi Shira,

    I agree with you that it is unlikely that kids who go to a state school will emerge upon graduation with a fluency in reading Jewish texts and mefarshim etc).

    However, I think one could say the same about students from many of the Jewish day schools. It also must be recognised that this is not an expectation of many parents. Think Scopus, Bialik, and King David parents.

    But what about those parents who have that expectation? I suppose many Yavneh parents, for example, would have this expectation, and if one can afford it, then that is a great option (but what it means to be able to afford it is in another debate – one might be able to technically afford it but at great opportunity cost).

    Many of my contemporaries who went to a Jewish day school for their entire schooling have little knowledge of Jewish texts (less than even myself) and they are much less interested in shul participation and Jewish learning than I am (FYI I didn’t go to a Jewish high school).

    Of those contemporaries I know who are literate in Jewish texts (and I can think of several who went to Jewish schools and several who did not), these people have gained their knowledge via education provided by their shul and/attending a yeshiva in Israel etc, and most importantly, they generally had family members who encouraged them to do so.

    I think the key is that if the school can give Hebrew fluency, this makes it a lot easier for the student to gain fluency in Jewish texts via extra-curricular cheder, studying with family members and/or shul members, and post school seminary/yeshivah etc.

  • Shira Wenig says:

    Frosh, that’s why I disagreed with your comment as a blanket statement – there is a wide variety in the level of Jewish education people want for their kids, and a wide variety in the level offered in our different schools.

    Of course there are extracurricular and post-high school ways to do it, and these are pursued by those who want to further their Jewish education beyond what they were offered at school (including those who had a great Jewish education at school – it doesn’t have to stop at age 18!)

    But unfortunately it’s hard work to use these avenues to replace 15 years of solid dayschool education. For one thing, you need a certain skill level to get in to many of the post-high school yeshivot & seminaries – they don’t all offer a beginner stream. If you go to a yeshivah that does offer a beginner stream, it would still take years to develop independent learning skills – at a stage in your life when you probably won’t have the time or the funding to support this. Extracurricular cheder/UJEB can do a lot, but just doesn’t have the time to match the 10-15+ hours a week of Jewish studies provided in some of our schools.

  • Shira Wenig says:

    by the way, none of the above is intended to doubt or belittle those who have managed to pursue their Jewish education through alternative avenues – kol hakavod to them. Rabbi Akiva started at 40 :)

  • TheSadducee says:


    Rabbi Akiva also believed that Bar Koziba was the Messiah.

    (Messiah Fail)

  • Jonny says:

    My view is that it’s this language of better or worse when applied to Jewish Education that Is the problem, not the options available or any particular provider’s approach. Parents think this all through carefully and make decisions on personal interests.

    I call on everyone to stop using language like poor alternative or second rate… It is simply ignorant and simplistic to think this way.

  • Jonny says:

    Sorry I have joined this one late guys… This really is a terrible article. Phew talk about the flawed core belief that we should all be homogeneous drones without different experiences, exposures, values and upbringings… A terrible mix of fear, entitlement syndrome, jealousy and judgement of others.

  • Jonny says:

    Sorry, last comment… 

    Personally, I’m very proud of our community. 

    If you are desperate for ultra orthodox education yesiva or addass will make every effort to accommodate you. And they are funded by many many donors who help selflessly! 

    Leonie is talking about the other 4 or 5 private schools for everyone else and they are all very open to long term payment plans etc etc if you’re serious. But you have to really want the ready made product and immersion they are selling. If you don’t want their specific culture or their version of the product then these schools are very poor options for identity building because the identity will feel forced on to the students and the children will reject it. 

    The judgement of second classness in this article levelled at the Glen Eira model is totally unacceptable. 

    Ours is a different way of thinking. An independent approach. The Glen Eira model enables kids to follow the full VCE Hebrew Curriculum formally and then create their own package of Jewsh identity in the before and after hours of their day. And their day is more available because there are no empty long bus trips. 

    Many in the GEC Hebrew class are shomer shabbat, some do study texts… or get advanced coaching and so on.

    Others are cultural and connect with youth movements… Some are reform and involved in Tikkun. 

    Better than, worse than…don’t bother comparing… Totally different! But not disenfranchised. 

    These are all wonderful choices for a community packed with educators, pathways and options. A full world of opportunity for those who are intrested, and passionate enough to create their own journey.

    I encourage everyone reading this to do what suits them and to get rid of notions of comparison, jealousy or judgement. 

  • letters in the age says:

    Great stuff Johnny

    each to their own,


  • Marky says:

    Here is the London equivalent of Mt Scopus. It seems even more state of the art. Completely government funded


  • Jonny says:

    Wow Marky, we must look into this. So interesting. Does anyone understand how UK law enables this kind of model under a State banner and funding?

    It is still an open to all state school. It seems run a Jewish Education stream but is allowed to publically call itself “Jewish”. Fascnating…

    Here is their position on inclusivity…
    Inclusivity: JCoSS is a non-selective, state school welcoming students of all levels and academic abilities – if you want to be part of the JCoSS Community and consider yourself Jewish, then we welcome you. JCoSS is also proud to be working in partnership with Norwood to provide a unique resource for students with autistic spectrum disorders, ensuring support runs throughout the school.

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