Jewish education isn’t indoctrination. It isn’t dogmatic or simplistic. Jewish tradition encourages the challenging question and praises the inquisitive mind. It’s basic, as in “God bless you.” It’s loving, as in “God be with you.” It’s inclusive, as in “We hold these truths to be self evident …” A Jewish education will help your child connect these parts to the place where they all began.
And finally, there’s anti-Semitism. By far, people are good and decent, and anti-Semitism isn’t a part of mainstream American thought. But it’s out there. It would take me about two seconds on the Internet to bring up anti-Semitic websites so vile you’d want to toss your cookies. Sooner or later, your Jewish child is going to encounter this. When it happens, he’ll need to be ready. He’ll need knowledge to answer the lies. She’ll need confidence to stand tall in the face of ignorance and bigotry. A Jewish education will be especially valuable.
If you have a Jewish child, and if you’ve read this far, then I will be so bold as to say that in your heart, you know I’m right. Your Jewish children deserve a Jewish education. It’s their birthright. Don’t let them down.
Robert Garfield is a physician and serves on the board of directors of Temple Beth El in Oneonta. For more information, email to firstname.lastname@example.org.