Home » Community Life, Recent Posts, Yossi Goldfarb

Complementing Reality

January 22, 2013 – 11:28 am19 Comments

Israeli madrichim visit Gardenvale, July 2012

By Yossi Goldfarb
You know them, but you don’t know who they are. Their names are Reuben and Riley, Maddison and Miriam – you’ve seen them around for sure. It could have been at your child’s under 9s footy game, or maybe they spent a year together in kinder. Possibly at that Chanukah function in the park the other year?

These seen but unseen children are the 1,500 Jewish children the community-governed United Jewish Education Board (UJEB) engages every week of the school year. You probably know their parents – went to school with them even, but these children who attend government schools are now receiving their Jewish education through UJEB and a raft of other private or sectarian providers.

Our community’s impressive day-school system was conceived by a post-war generation and designed to cater to the needs of their children in the 1960s and 1970s. Through the 1980s and 1990s the model continued to work and successfully educate the majority of the community’s children.

The model, however, is tiring. Not in terms of the quality of its education or the connections it fosters between its children and their heritage – results here continue to impress. Does the model sustain the broader community’s education needs? Does the model give us security regarding the Jewish continuity of our own grandchildren? The 1,500 pupils UJEB teaches weekly (a rapidly increasing number) suggest the model is in need of urgent attention and repair.

A new model for Melbourne’s Jewish education needs to transcend established notions. For the next fifty years, for our grandchildren’s education our community needs to think in terms of an integrated, but diverse Jewish Education System rather than the current collection of institutions aligned solely by geography.

As UJEB president, when interacting with the broader community I often encounter two issues that speak volumes for community attitudes towards UJEB and consequently about an integrated education framework – price and choice.

The argument goes something like this: “UJEB is comprised of families displaced from our day schools because either they can’t afford the privilege or they chose not to participate.”

Neither argument on its own is true, however. And more importantly, it’s not about the parents’ choices – it’s about the offering and how it matches the community’s needs and desires. Unlike shules, for example, where you can turn up three times a day or three times a year, participation in our education system is largely binary – you’re either in or you’re out.

It’s not our role to judge why people chose what they do, it’s the community’s role to provide multiple entry points to enhance access and build involvement. An initiative like the Hebrew program at Glen Eira College is a terrific example of this.

UJEB’s involvement in this program is modest, but it’s a model worth exploring. Elements of Jewish education are being offered to complement the increasingly prevalent phenomenon of our families seeking education in the public system (for whatever reason). The Glen Eira model complements the reality and looks ahead, rather than aspiring to a return to a lost, golden era of Jewish education.

Pleasingly, attitudes are changing. The debate is changing. Sure, some Jewish school principals have written in these pages that offering Hebrew in a government school is not a Jewish education. They’re right – well half-right maybe.

There’s no doubt that Hebrew lessons, after-school classes, religious instruction (JRI) during school time, and camps is not an integrated Jewish education. But add one of those components and you add a Jewish spark to the children, a kernel, a beginning – on which UJEB families, together with the community can build.

And UJEB is building. We’re working to create for our families a sustainable system that will keep these 1,500 children and their families connected with broader community. We’re opening education centres where the community actually live and play, not where they’re expected to be. We’ve been fortunate to work with some wonderful partners like Gandel Philanthropy on our new centre “Bentleigh Merkaz” and with the United Israel Appeal on enhancing the quality of our JRI program, benefiting the children in the program and connecting them with the community.

Throughout my twenty-five years of involvement in our Jewish community, I’ve consistently heard our leaders preach, and community members agree, that education is the community’s number one priority.

Education should continue to be this community’s number one priority – a priority owned by the entire community. Despite its 1,500 children placing UJEB on par with other Jewish education providers on size, UJEB is no more the owner of the issue (or the solution) than anyone else. But it is an important partner, and like all partnerships, we need everyone to contribute.

Yossi Goldfarb is the president of UJEB and a UJEB parent.

Print Friendly


  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Thanks for the great article Yossi.

    For those who are unaware of what Yossi is referring to as the Glen Eira model, please see the articles published here on what we are doing Glen Eira Secondary College.


    The Glen Eira Model is going from strength to strength with great collaboration with UJEB!

    2013 is going to be an amazing expansion of activities in the model and we will release the details soon.

    Thanks to Yossi for his leadership at UJEB and their collaboration with the Glen Eira plans, which has been pivotal. I’m hoping that new age of Jewish Education in Melbourne based on these projects and others will be exciting and accessible to all!

  • Rod Kenning says:

    Yes, it is a great article.

    In fact, so good, we ran it in the January 11 edition of the AJN!

    Glad you retained the headline I wrote.


    Rod Kenning
    National Operations Manager

  • frosh says:

    Yes, but now some people under 65 will actually get a chance to read it.

    It’s a pity we can’t annotate articles/content in the AJN when they’ve already been published in Galus.

    Also glad to hear that the National Operations Manager and the Sub-editor at the AJN is the same job.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    What a strange post from the AJN.

    Thanks for republishing Galus. I have a feeling the readership for whom this article has most value are likely to have missed it on Jan 11 in the AJN.

    And it’s a topic that is interesting to explore and discuss.

  • TheSadducee says:

    “Yes, but now some people under 65 will actually get a chance to read it.”

    – gold, frosh, gold. :)

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Johnny and Yossi

    I am very impressed by the work you both are doing in educating Jews, all of them, even those who reckon thay are passed it.
    Most definitely there is “something” in the water you guys drink in Melbourne.
    Your kind of insttution, Johnny, for “some reason” cannot be seen, at least by my 42 years over here, being conceived in Sydney, knowing most of the local stuff and staff we have been saddled with in our local community. NSWJBD is beyond the joke, JEB is almost nowhere etc. Sad……………

  • Yossi says:

    Thanks Otto.

    From my interactions with our “sister organisation” in Sydney, I do think BJE do very good work. Well supported by a community-wide approach underwritten by the JCA.

  • letters in the age says:

    Tell that to Louise Adler!!

    She did yiddish outside of MLC

    Not a new idea really but great to see another model for today

  • letters in the age says:

    That doco Johnny,!!

    Still waiting with baited breath


  • Joe in Australia says:

    Yes, but now some people under 65 will actually get a chance to read it.

    That’s unfair. I happen to know that many young people read their parents’ and grandparents’ copies.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Nice of you Yossi to show such collegial politeness…
    My Son went through eleven years of Syd. Grammar with quite a few Jewish kids there and he hasn’t noticed trace of BJE and Sydney Grammar is, actually, a State school.
    In any case, I repeat , what Johnny and you are doing in Melbourne is not being replicated in Sydney at all, politeness notwithstanding.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    I hope that once the full model is launched Otto, that it will be easy for every State School with enough interest, to replicate.

    The challenge has always been secondary schooling. UJEB and others do great primary work. Together with UJEB and I must say about 7 other organisations and families, I’m hoping we have cracked the secondary school puzzle…

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    And I think the headline of this article is just wierd Rod… I thought Yossi had chosen that… No offence Yoss but would’ve been a strange title from you… What Does complementing reality mean in this context??? And what’s it got to do with Yossi calling for systemic improvement in Jewish Ed?
    Rods right Frosh. Should’ve changed the title…

  • Just to clarify the process for everyone, the title was supplied with the article when we received it; therefore we assumed it was the author’s title and not a third party’s.

    More often than not, articles are not supplied with titles, but sometimes they are. When the title is not supplied, we naturally create one. If the title is supplied by the author, we’ll often just use the supplied title, which is what happened in this case.

    As it happens, like most people in the 18-69 age group, we’re not in the habit of reading the AJN, and especially not in early January. Therefore, we were not aware that the title was actually that used in the AJN.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Hi Frosh
    That’s all appreciated.
    Yossi, maybe you can suggest a better title…I’m concerned people may not read the article under this title…

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Sorry fellas but “Complemeting Reality” in the context discussed here makes PERFECT SENSE.

    – reality is totality of facts
    – to complement is to ADD to… the totality of facts.

    As in your very laudable cases, Yossi and Johnny, yourse guys have DONE precisely THAT, you complemented what hs been considered hitherto a totality of facts.
    As you have CHANGED that said reality, the complement is now an active component of THAT reality, therefore becoming redundant as a complement but at the time of you introducing your changes, therefore THE complement, REALITY did not contain your initiatives.
    The “complement” in question was used by the AJN, anyway, as a ………..compliment, a well deserved one.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Nice work Otto.
    Takes a wordsmith to interpret a word puzzle…
    I still think I would have preferred something simpler and more direct…

    I like the compli(e)ment…

  • Otto Waldmann says:


    me to , something like:

    “Jewish parents to receive $15,000 a year as reward for enrolling their genius children in Jewish schools “…….
    Subtitle : a big “ALEVAI”.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Otto at most of the private Jewish secondary schools in Melbourne, that would still leave them close to 15k out of pocket after tax per child… Make it 25k per kid? Alevai!

Leave a comment!

You must be logged in to post a comment.