Source: The Jewish Daily Forward
The Jewish day school system in Britain is an amazing success, to an extent that it makes Jewish educators in America jealous. With the state meeting all costs of most of the Jewish schools except the cost of religious studies, and Jewish schools faring well in secular education, a very high proportion of British Jews send to Jewish schools. More than 50% of Jewish children between the ages of 4 and 18 are now in Jewish day schools.
These rates have risen significantly in the last three decades. And one of the knock-on effects has been the polarization of families from different religious levels.
Back in the eighties, schools were relatively mixed. There were more frum and less frum schools, but the Jewish schools generally contained a mix of children from Orthodox homes, and children from traditional or secular homes whose parents wanted a Jewish education.
This has changed significantly. Today, if you are Orthodox, you’re unlikely to send to the mainstream Jewish schools that traditional or secular parents send to (even though they are almost all run along Orthodox lines), and will almost certainly opt for a school that defines itself as frummer. These schools tend to accept only fully observant families, and often interview parents to find out about their religious standards.
The British Jewish community is thriving, and much is thanks to its amazing day school set up. But if the last few of decades have been about building this to the success it is today, there is now a need to consider the challenge of how to nurture a sense of Jewish unity in an environment where one has less and less need to encounter religious diversity.
Read the entire post at the Forward Blog.