How Jewish Day Schools Can Recruit Children of Skeptical Parents

In his research into Jewish schooling in North America, Alex Pomson and his collaborators interviewed over 100 families who chose to move their children into Jewish day schools from educational institutions of other kinds during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic. Here is what they found:

First, many had previously stayed away because of a series of misconceptions: they assumed that such schools lacked diversity and were educationally inferior to public schools, and that they would be religiously oppressive. Second, we discovered how satisfied families were with what their children now experienced: they relished the sense of community that schools provided during a time of dislocation and the degree to which their child’s educational needs were being met even in trying times. These families were not much interested in their children becoming Jewish cultural virtuosos, which was part of why they had previously stayed away. But they were thrilled with what they were now experiencing.

Pomson’s research also took him abroad, and he recounts what he learned from the last two schools he visited before COVID-19 interfered with his travel plans:

The schools were in Milan and Helsinki, and I speak neither Italian nor Finnish. My lack of comprehension meant that instead of being distracted by what people were saying, I had to pay very close attention to how they looked and acted. What I observed was, first, the diverse appearance of those who attended these particular schools. Their dress indicated socioeconomic and religious diversity: for example, some were in kippot and tsitsit; some just in kippot; some had neither; some were sporting the latest fashions, others not. Second, I saw the warmth and informality of relationships among students of different ages, parents, educators, and across all of these groups. This informality and multigenerational interaction—in classrooms, corridors, at lunchtime, at times of prayer—conveyed a sense of people feeling at home.

Read more at Sapir

More about: American Jewry, Day schools, Italian Jewry, Jewish education


Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem