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The Jewish Education Series: Will Generation X Please Stand Up

July 10, 2013 – 11:17 am51 Comments

jonny2Jonathan (Jonny) Schauder

This is the second in our education series. You can read Rabbi Kennard’s piece – the first in the series – here. Next week, Andrew Markus provides his assessment of the Jewish Australian educational landscape. 

I was honoured to be invited on to a panel with two Jewish Day School (JDS) principals and Professor Markus, author of the Gen 08 survey and results, to discuss whether anything had changed in Jewish Education since the survey results were released in 2008.

I found myself having quite a surreal experience as I tried to introduce the Glen Eira College model to the more than 100 people present. For those unaware of the GEC model, please see the Galus Australis articles here. I am a supporter and in-large part a product of the JDS system. This GEC model that I and others have been developing does not have any direct connection to the Private Jewish Day Schools but rather is envisioned to ensure that the public school and community based system has appropriate Jewish choices in it.

The panel discussion demonstrated one very clear outcome: in the private JDS system, nothing has changed. Ideas like streamlining, amalgamations, funding changes, efficiencies, increased access points, collaboration, tax deductibility, community revenue funds, interest free loans, or any other idea that may have been provoked by the Gen 08 research simply have not eventuated. The presentations from the panel gave nothing new. No solutions to private system accessibility.

And the surreal part of it was that there was not even any reporting of significant new, novel or creative attempts to solve the accessibility issues in the private system in the past 5 years.

I don’t think commenting further on the specifics of the discussion is relevant here but I walked away with perhaps three overarching observations as a result:

  1. The Baby Boomers have given up and Generation X is suffering from “locus of control” issues when it comes to Jewish Education.

Two definitions are required here to start:

  1. Generations: In terms of the generations referred to in this article, below is my understanding of the birth dates for the various groups are:
  • The War Generation was born between 1925 and 1945;
  • The Baby Boomers were born between 1946 and 1966;
  • Generation (Gen) X was born between 1967 and 1987;
  • Generation (Gen) Y was born between 1988 and 2008;

So a person born in 1980, if they wait till 30 to have children, will only have a primary school age student from around 2015 and a secondary student in around 2022… In 2008, they were still a happy go lucky 28 year old for whom Jewish Education of children was theoretical.

  1. Locus of Control: With regard to the idea of Locus of Control, the Wikipedia definition of locus of control is as good as any,

Locus of control: a person’s “locus” (Latin for “place” or “location”) for decision making is conceptualised as either internal (the person believes they can control their life) or external (meaning they believe that their decisions and life are controlled by environmental factors which they cannot influence).

Every time I stand alongside Baby Boomer leaders of the community they seem to be “calling out” to the “other” leaders of the community to make changes with regard to Jewish Education.

Who are these leaders they are calling to?

The War Generation did everything they could to enhance Jewish Education in Australia – they used the State system well, they built the private schools, sponsored and initiated services, filled gaps, led change – they drove the growth of the youth movements.

The Baby Boomers have no answers. That generation is satisfied that it has done what it can; and the current problems need to be solved by others. You may say they have succeeded or failed. I don’t know. But for all intents and purposes the Baby Boomers have not changed anything – even with the Gen 08 results calling for change – they have kept the post war ship straight.

This can only mean that it is time for Generation X to wake up! Take ownership of the education systems available, and make them right. As the classic serenity prayer suggests, Gd grant me the strength to change what I can, accept what I can’t, and have the wisdom to know the difference.

The Baby Boomers don’t have the answers for us. They can’t make it easy for us. Unlike the War Generation who raised the Baby Boomers and provided inherited legacies, our Baby Boomer parents will (hopefully) live long, spend big in their retirements (as they should), and will require a huge investment in aged and medical care as time goes on.

So when it comes to accessing private schooling – Jewish or not, unless you come from a familial line with deep wealth and a healthy family trust in place, please stop waiting to be funded by a white knight, or lottery tickets or a shopping centre owner.

Those of us who want private schooling… pay for it please. As far as I can see, there’s nothing wrong with the JDS approach or charges. As the speakers made clear – all the parameters are completely in line with standards. And the product will work for some, and not for others, and we all get to make our choices.

Those of us who want meaningful Jewish Education outside the Private system… please make it happen. For those of us who want big families, or want cultural diversity, or who don’t want to live as welfare recipients or who don’t wish to sacrifice to the point where every day is a stress … we must move faster to fixing the public system and community based offerings like UJEB.

The Glen Eira College model is a great start. And a similar model exists at Killara College in Sydney. But much more change is needed. I believe the skills, resources and leadership in Gen X are just getting moving now but that the sky is the limit once our generation accepts that they have to get on with it, rather than waiting for answers from others. As Herzl said, “if you will it, it is no dream!”

Credit must be given to movements like Chabad and Temple Beth, where organisations like Spiritgrow, Lamdeni and the Chabad and Temple Centres offer wide based (if very different) Jewish education to anyone that seeks it. And their offer is only as limited by parental interest in being involved. Similarly UJEB is growing and changing and moving. They have always delivered, but the leadership at UJEB know that change must come. And the community must fund UJEB as a recurrent priority investment, not a periodic fundraising option.

The panel made it clear that no one is coming with their cheque book or any other clever ideas to write anyone a free prescription for good VCE results and knowledge of Rashi. Gen X is now in charge of the Community’s destiny.

  1. About Generation X: the 40% is building.

We are about to access the centre of the normal curve over the next 10 years in Gen X. Five years on from Gen 08 and the bulk of the X Generation are becoming parents with multiple children turning 2, 3, and 4 – or we are planning more pregnancies as we speak.

This is the around 40% of the community that is growing in terms of families using the public system as their educational core. Add in the immigration from South Africa, Israel and Russia over the past few years and you have a defined generation of parents that are just starting to come to grips with the Jewish Education reality in Australia.

One observation is clear. Whether the Baby Boomers or anyone else thinks is good, bad or indifferent, this group will give their kids sufficient Jewish Education in any way they can. And continuity will occur as it should. The Day schools have no mortgage on Jewish Education and families will have to find their way.

In the diaspora, only a tiny minority of Baby Boomers attended private Jewish immersion schools except in the ultra-orthodox communities… and continuity was fine… in fact it’s probably why the Baby Boomer generation had money to spend on private schooling for Gen X; and why our parents were never “Jewed Out” .

Their War Generation parents developed funds and investments and accumulated wealth by NOT spending a single dollar on primary, secondary or university education – all were state funded. And their Jewish activities, events and learning were special and distinctive and communal rather than routine, and daily and educational. You did not sit a test at the end of a Shul function.

The Jewed Out generation has found their Jewish Education immersion so intense, ever present and predictable that they simply can’t hear another word about the themes of Purim; or how good a miracle it is to have oil that lasts a long time. Many of my private school mates couldn’t name 10 colours in Hebrew despite 12 years of learning.

If our community believes this 40% of families in State schooling will reduce rather than grow – then we stay in denial. Time to wake up! The numbers are too simple. Each child in a private school costs between $20- $30,000 after tax, per year.

You may cope with two high income parents and one or two children.

But by the time you have your third it is not sustainable. By your fourth you’re crazy… and by your fifth you’ve moved on. Does that mean families with 5 children or more definitely won’t send any of our kids to a private school – no, of course not, we like that the option is available. One child might need it, another might really want it, or perhaps they’ll all have a year or two in the private system… to balance our children’s experience.

The full-time prep to 12 model only works based on working as a teacher or administrator in the system, taking huge long term debt, cutting back lifestyle to its barest bones, winning the miraculous scholarship, or being so openly destitute that you are taken in under the charity banner. The rest of us will depend on either keeping their families small or having generational investments from the Baby Boomer and War Generations to call upon. I should say there are some self-made Gen X ultra-wealthy who of course will use private schooling – Jewish or not.

Overall more than half of Gen X will need community, state and innovative solutions over the next 15 years, as well as taking much more ownership of Jewish traditions at home. We will have to learn and replicate what the War Generation did without the comfort of immersion schooling.

  1. Finally… How much is enough? If you’re not a Rabbi are you a Jew? And what should this discussion really be about?

The final issue raised at the panel was how much is enough? The panel took some time to “beat up” on the Glen Eira model for not providing enough Jewish education. By my reckoning the platform of Jewish education accessible in the GEC model is sufficient for many. That platform is a school that now takes the Jewish calendar into account culturally: clear acknowledgement and/or celebration of all festivals, Shabbatons and camps, a basic understanding of the cycle of the Torah, prayer, mediation and the structure of Jewish life and life cycle events; being able to speak Hebrew and understanding the pivotal role of Israel, history, holocaust and tradition. Everything after that is about being social within the large Jewish community on campus, connecting to causes, participating in events and finding life partners.

On top of that platform, families can add on whatever deeper options they’d like – textual studies, mentoring, deep personal observance, and of course, independent study.

Do 14 year old kids need to know Rashi, Talmud and Kabbalah, and be able to read trop? Do they need to be able to lead a service; or to bestow a hechsher? For most of us the answer in the religious “centre” the answer is no. For those who say yes then Yeshiva is awaiting you as is Beth Rivkah and Addass, and Yesodei Hatorah where there are no swimming pools and huge grounds on which to play footy. And so affordability is more likely. Of course our family backgrounds will drive our views on all this.

Rabbis and others who choose to lead our religious future are missioned to provide this deeper learning and service for the community from cradle to grave. Any all of us, at any age, can and should access these services to learn these more mature secrets and interpretations over a lifetime when it is meaningful, useful and spiritual to do so.

Gen X will travel with their children more frequently to Israel than previous generations – both because that travel is now easier, but also because without the burden of School fees funds can be used in this very special way.

I contend that much more can be done in the public and community system and I’m looking forward to seeing how we can provide these choices.

And these choices are something that the Private Schools should be HELPING with… NOT judging others on.

For example, as a final outrageousness, a panelist felt the need to reinforce that the Glen Eira Model is not a Jewish Private School. It staggers me that such an observation needs to be made and I’d suggest that such a statement comes from a place of deep defensiveness rather than a vision of communal well-being.

Of course the two offerings are not the same. One costs a fortune the other costs very little. One has complete Jewish immersion and depth, the other has multi-cultural width, context and opportunity. One has prescriptive Jewish cultural homogeny in the institution chosen, the other has a melting pot of ideologies, levels of adherence, knowledge and leadership … they are very different. Not better or worse. Just different.

The system that will lead best to continuity is anyone’s guess. My suggestion is that we need both!

In conclusion, do what works for you in your decisions – but help all of us to improve the options available.

If you use the Private system – awesome. Enjoy. Prosper. If you use the pubic structure then reexamine your disempowered stance, and make the public and community systems better. The public and community systems are designed to meet parental needs… all parents have to do is get together, speak up, make recommendations, and put a small amount of time, money and effort where their vision is!

The next time we talk of these things in public let’s use the collaborative frame of …

  1. How can the state and community models best support and interact with the private school system?” and
  2. How can the private system best contribute educational options, choices and Jewish continuity into the wider community system?”

If we reframe the discussion we will have options and continuity for everyone!

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  • Ian Grinblat says:

    Your passion is wonderful and it is for such a noble purpose.
    I think you are correct – we are morally obliged, not just as parents, but as a whole community, to equip our children with the foundations of Jewish knowledge and hope that their own curiosity/passion will lead them to build on that. Beyond that, parents may be able to afford private Jewish schools or they may have to embark on a journey of learning with their children.
    Historically, the Mechanics Institue / Workers Education model is only recent but philosophically it is long ago – we have all become consumers of expensively packaged education when we could with application be learning a great deal co-operatively.
    I am in awe of your imagination and energy in pursuit of the GEC model – I hope that it is returning the kind of results you were expecting.

    Best wishes,
    Ian Grinblat
    info@craftedexpression.com.au (Private)
    accounts@antidef.org.au (Work)

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Ian, thank you. What are the models you are referring to?

  • Ian Grinblat says:

    In the 19th century, working people (men for the most part) could improve themselves by undertaking evening courses at the Mechanics Institute – the for-runner of the CAE.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Yes that’s a great example of what could be a collaborative solution… Imagine each synagogue or private institution delivering one lesson each per month on a shared curriculum to a mixed age heterogeneous community audience. Could be certified or simply educational… This is what I am referring to as community solutions. Thanks Ian.

  • radiant leon says:


    You be da man!

  • Ilana Leeds says:

    A most informative and passionate article. Kol Hakavod. The Glen Eira model is amazing but as I have one or two friends with children at the college I do know that there is immense work to be done with regard to providing some Jewish subjects within the school curriculum.
    As a Jewish parent who is struggling financially and was forced to remove my child from a good school where he was studying Hebrew supplemented by Lamdeni Jewish studies once a week, I know how it is to want a solid and grounded Jewish education for my child but you are constricted by financial concerns. I have this to say.
    Jewish education starts in the home. We all have our approaches and what level we want is up to us. A rabbi told me when my son was around 2 years of age that it is enough that he can do the bracha at his bar mitzvah. A comment that I wept over for days because I had imagined my son reading the whole parsha portion with trop fluently. By the time he spent his first year in Yeshiva college and it had ended most ignobly. I was stupid to have put him in Yeshiva because
    1. His father is not Jewish and that did come up as well as the fact he is half African. don’t get me wrong. Yeshiva college is a good school and has turned out many admirable people with the right approach to life, however some parents and their children and teachers were not ready for a half African Jewish kid. Let’s be honest.
    2. He has learning difficulties which have gotten worst over the years with the prejudice he has faced and been labelled with in schools.
    So we trotted off to the public school system where I have struggled to try and maintain myself and him on daily basis and give him a good Jewish education. We keep Kosher, Chaggim and Shabbat and we try to learn and I am now wanting to institute an earlier bed time so we can get up an hour earlier to do some Jewish studies even if it is just one line of the week’s parsha or some element of the chaggim or Halacha.
    The prejudices we faced and continue to face in the public system are too many to list here. I was very glad that the Glen Eira model exists, but I have been repeated told – Forget Jewish education and concentrate on life skills. Equip your son for life. He will never marry or have a family but just give him the life skills to cope with life in the best way he can. I have even had the comment that ‘the trouble is, he does not look mentally disabled but he is.He had severe mental problems and learning difficulties and you are doing the best you can for him but you have to face facts’.
    We always hold onto that tiny thread of hope and there is G-D so while colleges like Glen Eira will give Jewish kids (hopefully my son one day) some form of Jewish education, the best education has to come from home and how you as a parent express your Jewishness despite the knocks that you may receive from others and the isolationism from non Jewish parents and Jewish parents who feel somehow threatened by your observance, one hopes that your child will grow up with a good sense of Jewish identity and pride.
    My son continually gets told that I am not Jewish, just deluded and mad, and that he is not Jewish. That is probably the most confusing aspect of his life. As someone who has continually swum against the current for most of my life, I tend not to listen to what others say as I know who I am and what I am. A proud Jewish mother and I would hope that any Jewish parent would adhere to that belief and principle of liking who you are and not making excuses and deriding the religious or the other way around, deriding someone for not being ‘frum enough’. Jewish kids of any background and level of religious observance should be able to sit in a classroom and learn Jewish subjects and feel a sense of kinship and ahavas israel.
    Jewish education starts with
    Love your neighbour as you love yourself.
    Not enough Jews love themselves enough and through that love they can then love others. I am talking here about spiritual love and empathy.
    Fast well if you are fasting on Monday night and Tuesday and those who do not, please reflect a little on how we can support ahavas Israel in the Jewish community and outside it. We need it.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Anyone considered that religious education can be pursued outside of school hours with the cooperation of the (orthodox) rabbinate?

    Can’t they make the time to teach privately and publicly lessons to Jewish youth who need varied levels of education?

    Surely they can have an even handed approach to the variable levels of observance/belief etc and teach from an orthodox perspective all the essentials?


  • Jonny Schauder says:

    And UJEB must be a properly certified RTO funded by the government and accountable to a proper community derived curriculum. All of these community teachers should then deliver to those standards.

  • letters in the age says:

    So thats what you look like Johnny….


    It explains the passion and creativity in your glorious work!!


  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Sweet! Thanks letters.

  • letters in the age says:

    no problems champ!


  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Does anyone know if UJEB gets Govt funding like the other schools? And if UJEB is a registered training org?
    If not.., why?

  • DC says:

    UJEB is Not a registered RTO nor it is a community language school which in the latter case misses out on $190/child/year. I don’t know why. All they need to do is submitt a curriculum and adhere to basic accommodation safety rules. They could easily do that. Other communities apply for this money with less credentials than UJEb. I also agree with the comment that Jewish education starts in the home. The cost of private Jewish education is beyond the reach of many and we are losing people from the already tiny community we have. That’s the greatest tragedy. How can other ‘quality’ private schools charge $5-10k/year? (Which most families could afford) and jewish schools charge twice/three times that? Time to cut back on the glitter (pools, sporting grounds) and be more inclusive – introduce more diversity into private Jewish schools (not just those with rich grandparents) and grow the community not dessimate it. I hope the glen eira model works.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    DC do you know why UJEB is not a registered training org or language school? This is what I mean by the lack of change over the past decade. How can that be?

    It means:
    1. No funding
    2. No accepted Jewish Ed platform curriculum
    3. No formal educational systems or standards

    Do UJEB get any recurrent Govt grant funding in either an educational or multicultural basis?

    The Glen Eira model is going well, you can read an update in other articles. Its sustainability and continuing success is simply a matter of Gen. X deciding to own the model, use the model and build on it. And we need to replicate it in Benleigh High.

    School funding in Australia is biased towards the Catholics. It is a long standing bias in the system that is both increasingly prejudice but also immovably entrenched. We at some point must acknowledge that we live in a Catholic/Christian Australia. And that our community comprises less than .02 of the population.

    The British models of Jewish public schooling relies on some very unusual and unreplicatable historical anomomlies that we simply don’t have in Australia. Worth noting that in London alone there are about 35 Jewish schools and half of them are public. About one school for every 5-10,000 Jews. And I don’t believe we can create that in our system.

    UJEB is intended to fill that prejudicial gap… But if that is not properly government funded then the system is very broken isn’t it? I’m sure there are many other part time cultural schools that receive plenty of funding.

  • Marlo says:

    UJEB does not currently run a language school. As I have read, and been briefed, the curricula requirements are language-based rather than cultural and the reporting includes a requirement to grade students formally and write reports. We have hitherto preferred an informal afterschool model which includes Jewish studies, but we frequently review our operations for best practice. I’d be happy to hear from other Jewish orgs who are RTOs about their experiences.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Sorry… On the run today… Surely this is the type of thing?
    Thanks Marlo the follow up. I hope someone that understands this stuff gets in contact with you!

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    The point I’m making is that the Private Schools between them received over 20 million dollars in the Julia Guillard slush fund… I think.

    Danby sent a proud email to every home in Caulfield spelling out how the money was “invested” or”wasted” depending on your perspective. Bialik got a new library, scopus got a fence or something… KDS and Addas built more rooms- not that they have more kids to put in them … and they now have to maintain them..,And how much did UJEB get? Nothing… Literally nothing.

    Should the JDS share some of those spoils with UJEB if they really cared about continuity?

    Not if you read Kennards article which prefers to spend the money on private school excursions with JAA to the Sudanese community and calls that “informal education” about charity…

    It’s either a broken system, a community that can’t collaborate, or incompetent advocacy against community priorities by those with the authority and position to or make a difference… And my generation has to demand change.

    The way UJEB has to beg for its funding is as indictment on the way the system has been set up Melbourne and the way in which UJEB has perceived and branded itself. In Sydney I understand it is better because of central pooling which makes much more sense although I know nothing of BJEs activities.

  • James says:

    Shavua tov, “Kennard” here.

    Is Jonny suggesting the Jewish schools take government money which is specifically designated, and rigorously audited, for areas such as security, or very particular building projects, and divert it into supporting other communal organisations?

    Or is he suggesting that we raise fees further, so that we can use parents’ money to donate to these organisations whether those parents want to or not?

    It would be helpful if he would clarify.

    By the way, I’m used to getting criticism from one quarter or another for pretty much everything we do, but I never thought that our facilitating students’ involvement with the Sudanese Community to help them learn about how they can make a difference to the wider world would be opposed on Galus. But we live and learn.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    No I’m not suggesting any of that…are you being sarcastic?

    My comment is pointing out how out of whack our education systems have become. How much money is coming through the private schools for even more infrastructure – whether needed or not – and how little filters through to the community education systems.

    I am asking for more creativity, care, thoughtfulness, leadership, collaboration, and advocacy for the wider community – especially from Jewish education leaders who should care about the education of all our community kids and have a wider vision.

    I’m suggesting that you and all the other Jewish schools should want to help UJEB and other community education systems to do better for kids who are not in your immediate constituency. That you might want to take even a single minute to recognise the wider need and consider possibilities for how you can help rather than criticise or demoralise.

    And again your reaction perhaps demonstrates the point. You see no irony that you use raised school fees to support the Sudanese but you find it an extraordinary thought that I’d be calling for you to collaborate with UJEB or others to enable the Jewish community’s wider education and continuity.

  • ittayf says:

    Hi Jonny,
    As the Community Service Coordinator at Mt Scopus, I can assure you that there are several communal organisations with whom we volunteer by giving of our time, and sometimes raising money. This includes UJEB. You can see some of our students volunteering with the UJEB Phonathon here:

    I have also personally volunteered my time on the recent JSN camp to run a session about Israel. There a staff from all the Jewish schools who, if asked, will usually help out with providing resources or professional expertise to UJEB/JSN staff at professional gatherings such as the ZFA Educators conference.

    Could we do more in this area? Absolutely. But there are very few JS teachers I know in any schools who are in this profession solely for the money, or because they think only one school has the answer to ensuring the Jewish future of our people.

    Ultimately, most teachers who work in Jewish Education, do so because they believe that their expression of the Jewish tradition is meaningful and authentic. Many teachers volunteer their time in the evening to give shiurim in various shules, or places like Limmud Oz and Beit Wiezmann. Rabbi Kennard also makes time in his busy schedule to give a number of shirium to whomever would like to attend very week. Teachers do this because they believe that everyone should have access to Jewish learning, not just students in private schools.

    If there were more child and adult Jewish education forums set up in the Jewish community, I have no doubt that JS and Hebrew teachers from Jewish schools would be happy to volunteer their time to such projects.
    Let’s hope we can work together to make this happen.
    All the best

  • R B says:

    I agree with DC. Time has come for a “glitter-free” Jewish day school, which will be accessible for more families. The community cannot allow itself a situation, in which parents refrain from having one more kid just because of the cost of Jewish education.

    Personally, I think that the GEC model is insufficient, however it is better than nothing given the alternative.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Ittay thanks for that thoughtful input.

    Please don’t hear me criticising any specific individual in this thread. Your collaboration with me as recently as the Yom Hashoah assembly at Glen Eira College was amazing. People like your good self could be doing more personally to better our community. I’m not really even having a go at the Sudanese type initiatives (which you know I find wierd).

    Ittay I don’t know how many kids you plan to have but I know that for anyone of your age these will become real and critical life issues very soon.

    What I’m sure you don’t accept, like me, are macro systemic problems like proper funding models for UJEB not being properly addressed by the community as a collaborative priority!

    How can UJEB not have predictable and appropriate recurrent govt funding?

    Like using tens of millions of Govt slush funds to build more stuff that is probably not needed rather than working as a cohesive community to lobby and design and invest those funds in proper communally shared community assets or services.

    Like ensuring that we have a community curriculum for Jewish Ed defined that we can work on together and have options far and wide to help every family.

    Individuals can do all they wish, but the macro systems are the key.

    The strange reaction of the Jewish Day School Principals to my discussions and macro level activities at Glen Eira College is just so disappointing!

    I’m calling for the private school principals, and Operations mangers, UJEB, The synagogues, the RCV, and everyone else to work together to overhaul the community education systems on one simple basis…

    Choose to help…

    That simple…

    Don’t try to be sarcastic, or haughty, or dismissive, or competitive, or holier that thou…

    Just choose to help our community do this better systemically.

    Just choose to help please. And focus on what can be done rather than holding a position on what is not possible.

    Can the Jewish Day School Principals not extend their hand at a systemic level to UJEB or Glen Eira College, or other programs and ask… What do you need us to do? How can we help you get grants? How can we help you with curriculum, resources, assessment and lobbying? How can we share events to bring students together and get efficiencies on camps and shabbatons and festivals…

    We need to fix the systems first despite amazing personal leadership or volunteering from individuals like you Ittay.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Sooty Alex… Ittay that was meant to say you could NOT be doing more to better the community… Bad typo…

  • letters in the age says:

    Danby is good because he’s a ruthless politician…

    re: school fees etc

    yawn….come after the election well see

    #ducks for cover

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    RB the no frills school model would not engage the part of the community I am dealing with.

    These parents, (including me) whilst not in the private JDS system, and wanting quality Jewish options, don’t want to cut any corners in our kids’ secular school experience, standards or opportunities.

    Remember that Glen Eira College has a brand new state of the art performing arts centre, theatre and auditorium, it has a full sporting, music, arts and co-curricula agenda like a massive school musical; and
    half of the school has just returned from a “French language field trip” to New Caledonia.

    Please don’t hear me saying these frills aren’t critical. They are. GECs buildings are effectively brand new and my daughter recently hosted their FM radio program. These extras ensure that our kids love school and do well.

    A lady audience member at Limmud raised the Doncaster “no frills” JDS from ten years ago or more as a good attempt at system change but reported that it wasn’t sustainable… Do you know further about the model they designed?

  • Mike says:

    Johnny. Your vision and responses are spot on. I’m a parent who has two kids at Jewish day schools but also am involved in UJEB.
    I believe the challenge being faced is a political one. The number of Jewish kids at school age in Melbourne and the number of Jewish day schools has never made sense to me. That they each define what being Jewish is differently speaks volumes. It is all out of whack, as you say.
    An independent self sustainable system is required. Reliance on JDS principals should be put into its context. These schools have no choice but to morph into something else over time because their current offerings are not sustainable. I don’t believe they truly know what they should do for themselves let alone how they should help those not attending them.
    And anyone who has exhibited in their comments to you what i read as sarcasm should be ashamed of themselves. They aren’t fit for leadership positions. They are not community leaders.

  • Alex Fein says:

    Hi everyone.

    Thank you for the high callibre of discussion so far; however, I’d ask that people please refrain from anything resembling a personal remark about other contributors or commenters.

    Many of us feel very strongly about this issue; however, solutions are more likely to arise from collegiate discussion, rather than acrimony.

    Wishing you all a very good week.

  • R B says:

    Hi Jonny,

    I did not know about the Doncaster JDS (I’ve not been living here that long), this is an interesting point that worths checking. Maybe it failed because the Jewish population there dwindled more than because of a wrong model?

    I do not intend to cut corners on secular studies like math, sciences, English or foreign languages (if it depended on me, such a school should teach an Asian language at least at the same level as Hebrew). I think that even a no-frills schools should employ the best teachers and use the best instruction methods for these.

    However, unlike you, I do think that a nice auditorium and a trip to French Caledonia are frills and can be omitted for the sake of a more accessible JDS. Well, maybe this is because of my Israeli past, spending my school years in drab structures, which look like prisons and equipped with very basic furniture and labs, yet producing world-scale scientists and entrepreneurs.

  • R B says:

    Oops… I meant world-class, of course.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    RB interesting isn’t it. My schooling was half Scopus and half McKinnon… and frills were a must! Maybe someone else knows of the Doncaster attempt.

    Mike thanks for your support. It’s not lost on me that Principle Kennard is the only school leader brave and open enough to be engaged directly in this dialogue. There are many layers for all of us.

    My personal journey, I’m a strategy and change expert, saw me analyse and mainly reject all of the major options that see change in the private system. The costs, politics, traditions and clientele expectations are too strong and varied. My conclusion is the JDS will only change when one of the schools goes into receivership and the crisis brings all the parties to the table. That might actually trigger big change as a deal could be struck in that bankrupt school much more like the English model, where the community pays for the infrastructure and the government pays the operating costs.

    That is why I focus on the State system where everything is suboptimal on the Jewish front and potential seems infinite if we just care to act.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    We are so far away from a model where Jewish schools are funded (by government and the Jewish community) in a way that makes them universally accessible to all who want them. It would also require a total shift in the expectation that most parents have of Jewish schools for strong academic results (which means paying teachers more) and which is culturally and economically entrenched in Australia.

    In other words this is a discussion about public versus private education as much as a discussion about Jewish education and a key issue is the operating costs of schools as distinct from the cost of facilities. This is relevant for the discussion about no frills schools as well as the comments on how the schools used the one off federal grant to improve facilities. So we aren’t going to be able to fix that within the Jewish community until there is broader change on the whole private/public school question.

    In these circumstances presenting a better funding model as the solution, disregards the reality of people who just can’t access Jewish day schools and are unlikely to be able to do so any time soon, no matter how deeply those making those comments believe in the effectiveness of Jewish day schools.

    Is it ever going to change? Well if so, it’s unlikely to be any time soon – in the meanwhile we have to look for and support alternatives that reflect what is possible for kids at school right now.

    Jonny made excellent points about leadership and locus of control. Perhaps the schools can never support or even acknowledge the need for alternatives. Maybe they are duty bound to protect the advantage of what is offered to the kids who attend JDS and we should stop looking to them for permission or blessing to develop alternatives. (And I say that even as I echo the comments admiring Rabbi Kennard’s openness and willingness to debate this).

    For example in the comments on his own article Rabbi Kennard made the point that one characteristic of a broad Jewish education offered by the day schools is access to world class speakers. It occurred to me to ask whether the day schools ever offer the speakers to say JSN. But really, it’s not the job of the Jewish schools to do that and perhaps it is not in the interests of the schools who employ them, to encourage or even permit teachers to do that. But the rest of us need to ask the ZFA, JNF, UIA, NIF, Limmud – whoever brings out overseas speakers – to make them availableto kids at McKinnon and GEC. Maybe it’s less efficient than taking a speaker to Bialik, Scopus, King David or Yavneh but arguably more necessary and impactful.

    Just an example of where leadership and influence on this issue belongs….

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Points well made as usual Mandi. If not now then when? The time for seeking permission has passed. And the need is immediate not theoretical.

    To add to your example there are eight Israeli shluchim available at BW right now and they have asked to be involved at GEC … as have so many amazing synagogue rabbis, ZYC leaders, youth movements like Skiff, the Jewishcare leadership program, March of the living, community leaders, chabad and other educators.

    It is just our current immaturity in our forum building and organisation at present that prevents such speakers having proper platforms for the kids. That will improve with increased enrolments next year. That being said, on all of the youth movement camps and JSN experiences this access is achieved.

    Similarly, every Thursday evening in term two the bogrim of IBC ran sessions at GEC straight after school in the Hebrew centre on campus and some non Jewish kids loved it so much they attended regularly.

    I applaud the role that JSN and the improved UJEB are playing in all this and know that ultimately, when UJEB accepts and is accepted as the step up central community education organisation it was always meant to be, we will make amazing progress. Sounds like BJE already have achieved some of those breakthroughs given the different community funding and collaboration systems run in NSW.

  • letters in the age says:


    It may also take a scandal or crisis to initiate major change culturally sadly.

    Vested interests aside, the selfishness of the upper middle class is mad to some degree to maintain a power base.

    Like politics ,are children taught to whiteant other children and play the same mind games??

    With the commodification of children and the free market ideology corrupting their value systems, i see its going to be an uphill battle.



  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Letters my whole business is culture and strategic change. Its what I do. And it must start with the assumption that change is possible and everyone involved has good intent for themselves and others.

    I think the shift in generational leadership will by its nature change everything.

    Hopefully for the better.

    None if us should hold a grudge against anyone that want to keep a powerful and extraordinary private school system in place in the Jewish community. I understand that motivation. I respect it. I support it.

    The only question is whether generation x who will not or cannot find a home in this system can regain its mojo in terms of actually working towards a vision that is achievable, beneficial and can inspire action.

    We are the 50% and I believe that we can.

    The difficulty for the majority of us is ridding ourselves of our parent’s generation’s definitions of success or failure and genuinely defining it for ourselves.

    In other words, accepting what we cannot change, working hard to improve what we can change and having the wisdom, empowerment and internal peace as parents to know the difference.

    In biblical terms the explanation given for the forty years of wondering in the desert was that the mindset of slavery had to disappear before the Israelites could access the promised land. The great moment of this came when Gd doesn’t even allow Moses access to the new land because of his mindset that saw him demanding Miracles from Gd rather than striving to keep his own faith and empowerment.., the difference between an enslaved and free mindset. And so leadership is passed to Joshua who is one of only two spies who are prepared to report that the Israelites can do this! That they can be free, successful and self sustaining… And so we will be!!

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Very nice comment shared on my Facebook page by a GEC parent…

    Awesome article Jonny!!! Couldn’t agree with you more. After 10 years at a Jewish day school I went to a public school and it was at the public school that I felt most Jewish. I love that my daughter gets to go to a school and experience the best parts of being Jewish, is surrounded by lots of Jewish kids but also kids from every walk of life and religion. I also like that she can choose which parts she wants to participate in without it being shoved down her throat or, worse, not being an active participant because “she is over it”.

  • letters in the age says:

    Many thanks for your reply Johnny.

    Respect must come from ALL sides and sadly that’s not the case.

    Generational change is certain but how many generations will it take?

    That worrying baggage is indicative of the spin and marketing of these schools.

    Success is defined differently by people and is often associated with a large financial status attached to it by the community.

    My experience was varied but i saw the very ugly parent syndrome displayed to me by some members of the community.

    Civility is a virtue that needs to be taught along with respect.

    As a business model ,the school system will not be immune to manipulation and maybe even corruption.
    ie bullying which is criminal now.

    Engaging in the wider community starts within the family home not a school environment.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Thanks Letters…
    For any parents reading this the following JSN activitites may interest you…

    Dear all,

    JSN Big Day Out – Been meaning to let me know that your child will be enjoying a JSN Big Day Out this Sunday? If the answer, which I am sure it is, is a resounding YES then I encourage you to respond to this email asap as final numbers will need to be confirmed shortly. It really is going to b e a fantastic day – a movie at Melbourne Central followed by bowling and laser skirmish at Galactic Circus in the Crown casino complex.

    JSN Zionist Seminar – 9-11 August. Time for the early bird special is nearly up, I look forward to being positively inundated with camp forms this week!

    If you have any questions or there is something you would like to discuss please feel free to email or call me on 0402 00 8090.

    Wishing you all the loveliest of days

    Dani Miller
    JSN Co-ordinator

    Dani Miller
    Jewish Student Network,
    UJEB’s High School Experience

    Ph: 9038 5028
    Direct: 9038 5042
    Fax: 9038 4422

    Suite 1, 875 Glen Huntly Road
    Caulfield South 3162

  • letters in the age says:



    This ones for you. Enjoy!

    Howard Sterns Jewish Day School experience is controversial but has elements of truth in it for many especially his own parents and the ” jewed out generation”



    If you have no sense of humour move on from here.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Bit sad that he and his parents never got it right so he could enjoy it…

    A good commentary on the need for “balance” for children from traditional rather than orthodox homes.

    Funny in an “oh dear” rather than “ha ha” kind of way.

    Fascinating case study though.

  • letters in the age says:

    American Jews are different from Aussie Jews….

    He is an entertainer and might have issues with his own identity….

    Anyway , Larry David seems to have the same complexes….

    They use their humour to cure themselves i guess…


  • UnderstandingFunding says:

    Dear Jonny

    While I applaud your efforts and your attempt to energise the community to provide a broad, well supported offering for all elements of the community your claims against the JDS system for essentially using funding on unnecessary physical needs (which, incidentally, you claim you want for your children too and aren’t willing to sacrifice) rather than giving it to UJEB are unjustified and misleading.

    I assume that the money from the Gillard Government that you are referring to was the BER (Building the Education Revolution) funding. The JDS system didn’t go to the government and say ‘can we please have all the money for Jewish education so we can build up our private school facilities’. The government put together a funding model which funded physical needs at schools – not any educational institution. So that wasn’t money the JDS took rather than sharing it with UJEB – that money was never going to be available for UJEB.

    That being said, I hope and trust that the people running UJEB are doing all they can to investigate government (and other external) funding opportunities and doing all the can to ensure the structure of UJEB is managed in a way to conform with these funding opportunities (to the extent that they can do so without sacrificing UJEB’s true goals).

    Best of luck to all involved in promoting all of our educational products.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Thanks Funding… Yes I understood all that very well.

    But your explanation again demonstrates the lack of coordinated creativity, empowerment and strategic leadership in our community.

    I realise it was purely a building fund intended to keep builders building…but the schools and community leaders did not get together to work out how best to use that money and wider opportunity.

    Each just added their own things and got bigger as they do. And I think it’s been pretty clearly demonstrated that he Govt didn’t really care what was built per se.

    That there was no lobbying of the government to use any of that financial opportunity to creatively alleviate actual community systemic needs seems bizarre.

    That the Private Schools council (sorry I’m not sure what the peak body is called… Is there a school presidents forum?) didn’t have a coordinated approach to anything…(I assume… Would love to be corrected and hear that they built something together rather than 4 or 5 of their own version).

    And of course my point really was just about flows of govt funds generally and the need for UJEB to get “any” status as a “school or a college”. UJEB is a school too.

    As you concur, UJEB needs to get that and stop thinking of itself as a community charity. And if necessary change its goals.
    So why no BER or any other funds for UJEB? Because we are not well organised or planned. And the advocacy is institution rather than community focused.

    The comment about sacrifice is I think you just trying to be unnecessarily mean without basis which is a strange dynamic that occurs in these conversations. And is certainly out of place with the rest or your otherwise constructive comment.

    Would you like to tell us what you have sacrificed for your kids JDS? Happy to hear about and talk about sacrifice… What it really means and what it’s consequences are…I think that it is an ever reducing small percentage of the community to whom that sacrifice argument actually applies…just feels like language from the eighties.

  • letters in the age says:

    Very well articulated Johnny again.

    Having re-read the comment thread on this issue, i dont know if i would really want to associate with some of the parents in the J.D.S sadly.

    Cashed up bogans always can afford private schools and in my criteria, i would want to see the educational credentials of the parent body.

    Sorry if it sounds elitist, however it saves the parents mixing with people that live vicarously through their kids and all the problems associated with the ugly parent syndrome.

    Life is too short to waste time with idiocy!!


  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Harsh letters… Harsh…

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Sorry Letters that was just the opening if my. Comment the rest got cut off… Don’t know why.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Sorry Eds must be a bug again… Ill await your intervention to see if you can republish my original comment….

  • letters in the age says:


    My baggage has tainted my response…

    i admit that and hope my brazen remark doesn’t offend..

    I know there is decency out there but like Jon Stewart from the daily show says when he dissects the following words;

    Libretarians and conservatives

    lies + con = $$

    Cant afford to take that risk with schooling at this stage and that ideology.


  • UnderstandingFunding says:

    Dear Jonny

    Firstly – apologies if my comments came across unintentionally strong and mean. It wasn’t the intention or thrust of my argument and I’m sorry if (a) it was hurtful and (b) if it took away from the rest of what I was saying.

    I’m all for collaboration and communal thinking, but I think it needs to be put into perspective. Whilst I’m not the biggest fan of the Gillard government, I believe there were constraints around how the money was spent so we can’t come down on the JDS everytime they get a dime and don’t share it around.

    We also need to realise that the JDS face financial pressures too. Yes, they get more government funding than UJEB, but I’m guessing their budgets are significantly larger and under just as much pressure as UJEB’s is, so to suggest they simply siphon cash off to UJEB because they can’t/haven’t got government funding is unfair. They also all have their own mandates, so whilst I would encourage and applaud any joint effort to make systematic changes that will benefit the Jewish Education system as a whole (anad you probably understand better than most just how broad that can be understood) we need to stop beating them up for looking out for themselves too. Otherwise, take the argument to the extreme and if it’s the Jewish community we are looking out for each and every organisation should pool all their revenue/funds and share it around.

    I’m not sure what you mean when you say “I think that it is an ever reducing small percentage of the community to whom that sacrifice argument actually applies…just feels like language from the eighties.” but am interested to know. That being said, I know the extreme sacrifices that my grandparents made in the 60s and 70s and having talked to many a people now workign out what sacrifices they are willing to make for their childrens’ education, I haven’t met many that are willing to do the sort of things that my grandparents (and I think that was somewhat representative of the generation and time). I’m not judging (genuinely), I’m just saying how I think it is. For what it’s worth, I’m not old enough to have had to yet pay for education, although I am acutely aware of some of the costs I will face and set myself certain savings targets to give us a chance of beign able to meet those costs if they one day eventuate – so yes, I already watch all expenses and make sacrifices whereever possible.

    I’m going to assume (and hope) that your description of ‘letters’ comments as ‘harsh’ is genuine. I say that because whilst I deplore any family, community or society that creates an atmosphere wherein children (or anyone) feel they can exclude or denigrate others on the basis of schooling type or (lower) socio economic status (as was suggested at some stage in this thread or another) that should apply across the board, and the comments made by ‘letters’ about JDS parents are equally as broad brushed, negative and damaging. Letters, I note your apology of sorts (accompanied with a justification like explanation) but really think that if you’re looking to be part of building a better, more vibrant and unified community then baseless smears of any section isn’t going to serve your cause particularly well.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Funding… Yes accept all that and the mutual pooling of funds would be better… My comment is all about leadership… not the building fund… just using that as an example. They do pool funds in NSW and UJEB(BJE) is part of that distribution. And with over 1200 kids in the UJEB system you can argue it is Melboutnes largest Jewish school. It is just completely under utilised!

    Can one “sacrifice” in order to buy a rolls Royce? Do people sacrifice to send their kids to Wesley?

    The language is strange…

    You are saving to buy a product that you feel represents good value for money…

    Can you call that sacrifice? “Sacrifice” is what the war generation did because they had to build it… Not buy it?

    I wish you all the best with your decisions about children and education. I hope that by the time you have to understand the reality of having more kids vs private schooling I have the GEC model optimised and UJEB is running well so that you feel like your community is actually supporting your choices either way rather than forcing you to feel like a welfare case or a failure.

    Finally what I mean by reducing is that the reality, as Mandi commented earlier, is that you can either afford it or not. Subsidies won’t determine that. And “sacrifices” are a silly way to look at budgeting. It is just the JDS of the eighties language trying to guilt those very small group of people on the cusp to stay in a system they can’t afford. The rest of us are just making hopefully guilt free choices. In my year at Scopus in 1990 we had more than 180 kids in the year. In this years group I believe there are 80ish. The divide is clearer with current cost of living. You can either afford it and value it… or not… Sacrifice is irrelevant.

  • letters in the age says:

    Just to clarify:

    Afford implies a philosophical mindset not a financial one in my last post


  • Jonny Schauder says:

    First Glen Eira College article published in Hebrew in the Iton… Local Israeli newspaper. Will be interesting to see the reaction! The school understands that it is competing with the other local state school’s for this community’s enrolment.

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