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The Need for a Curriculum Focusing on Conservative Judaism for Solomon Schechter Day Schools
Submitted as Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of MA in Jewish Education
Rabbi Jason A. Miller New York City May 2004 Iyyar 5764
For Josh. May you grow to be a willing, learning, and striving Conservative Jew.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Acknowledgements…………………………………………………. page 4 Preface…………………………………………………………………….. 6 Solomon Schechter Day Schools………………………………….............8 Current Practices…………………………………………………………11 The Need for a Conservative Curriculum……………………………….. 15 A Proposed Curriculum…………………………………………………. 19 Problems and Impediments……………………………………………… 28 Conclusions……………………………………………………………… 35 Bibliography…………………………………………………………….. 37 Appendix I………………………………………………………………. 40 Appendix II……………………………………………………………… 41 Appendix III...………………………………………………………….... 42 Appendix IV..……………………………………………………………. 43 Appendix V………...……………………………………………………. 44 Appendix VI..……………………………………………………………. 45 Appendix VII……………………………………………………………... 46
Miller 4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS This study would continue to reside only in my head were it not for a select group of special people. I would be remiss if I did not single out a few of the individuals who shared of their time and expertise with me in this endeavor. Rabbi Robert Abramson, my Headmaster at Hillel Day School for many years and now Director of Education at United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, demonstrated why the Movement’s Day Schools have relied upon him and his insight for so many years. Over a wonderful lunch, Mrs. Charlotte Abramson, Director of the Melton Center’s Standards and Benchmarks Project for Day Schools taught me how she tried to infuse her students with a sense of Conservative Judaism’s strengths in each class she taught. The many Day School administrators who took time out of their busy schedules to speak with me about their own visions have my most sincere appreciation, namely Rabbi Josh Elkin of the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education, Rabbi Jim Rogozen of the Gross Schechter Day School in Cleveland, Dr. Mark Smiley, formerly of Hillel Day School and now the Director of Education of the Associated Schools in Toronto, and Rabbi Dov Lerea of the Heschel School in Manhattan. Rabbi Michele Faudem, Paula Mack Drill, Dr. Steve Brown, and Dr. Carol Ingall have also provided their insight and support for this project. My friends and Conservative Movement dugmaot (both professionally and personally) Peri and Dr. Alex Sinclair have eagerly offered their opinions on this subject, and caused me to think about issues I had not considered. I also wish to thank all of the Jewish Day School students, alumni, parents and teachers who responded to my questionnaires.
Miller 5 My thesis advisor, Dr. Barry Holtz, has stood by me during this entire process and encouraged me to see to its conclusion. He is one of the Seminary’s most caring professors and a paradigm of pedagogical excellence for the Conservative Movement. I offer an enormous amount of thanks to my parents and my parents-in-law for their unyielding love and support over the past six years during my Seminary experience. I could not have done this without them. Finally, I extend the greatest appreciation to Elissa for being my ezer k’negdo in everything I pursue, and for being my partner in creating the best gift in the world.
Miller 6 PREFACE As a Conservative Jew who attended a Solomon Schechter Day School and is now about to be ordained a Conservative rabbi, I often reflect on my Day School experience during the 1980s. I wonder how movement-specific that education was, and whether it played a significant role in my desire to enter the Conservative rabbinate. Those who understand the Conservative Movement would quickly cite the high school youth program United Synagogue Youth (USY) and the Ramah Summer Camps as the strong and successful components of the Movement.1 These informal educational institutions help to fortify Movement pride in youth where the Movement’s Day Schools are lacking. The Solomon Schechter Day Schools are an essential part of the Conservative Movement, yet, for various reasons, the vast majority of these schools do not have a curriculum in place focusing on Conservative Judaism as one might expect. This paper takes a detailed look into the pedagogical methodology of the Conservative Movement’s Day Schools and seeks to determine the extent to which a Conservative Judaism curriculum could be put forth in the current dual curriculum model. The analytical evidence has been obtained through questionnaires2 completed by current Day School students, alumni, parents of both current and former students, teachers, and administrators, as well as through personal interviews with key leaders in the Jewish Day School movement.
In this paper, the word “Movement” with a capitalized letter “M” indicates the Conservative Movement, whereas “movement” refers to any Jewish denomination. 2 See Appendix VI for the questions asked of the participants in this study. No quantitative data was gathered from the completed questionnaires. Rather, they were used to confirm the assumptions made concerning the current curricular situation in Conservative Day Schools. The questionnaires were completed by past and present students, faculty, parents, and administrators connected to some twenty different Day Schools. Selected quotes from the responses are contained herein.
Miller 7 This paper does not attempt to present an exhaustive curriculum to be used in schools. Rather, it argues that there is a need for such a curriculum to be implemented in Conservative Jewish Day Schools. A coherent, integrated curriculum combined with an increase in Conservative Jewish role modeling and experiential learning opportunities for Solomon Schechter middle school students will instill Movement understanding and pride in graduates, and encourage them to remain active in the Movement as they progress into their adult years.
Miller 8 SOLOMON SCHECHTER DAY SCHOOLS In the 1960s, no one would have been able to predict the rise of the Jewish Day School movement in the United States.3 This is certainly the case in the Conservative Movement, in which its laity embraced being part of the secular American society in the middle of the last century. Over the last decade alone, non-Orthodox pupils have come to account for one-fifth of all Day School enrollment (Freedman 2). The Conservative Movement’s rabbinic leaders supported the new institution as evidenced in their convention resolution in. “The Rabbinical Assembly…in recognition of the invaluable contribution that the Day School can make to our movement and to American Jewry, … urges the establishment of Day Schools in our congregations and communities wherever possible (1962 RA Convention Proceedings 242). The support of Day Schools in the Conservative Movement helped to create a more favorable climate for the fostering of intensive Jewish education and underscored the universal need for Day School education (Schiff 63). The number of Conservative-affiliated Day Schools in existence today (there are currently 76 schools according to the official Movement website)4 is a success story of the Movement. However, while these Conservative Day Schools (the Solomon Schechter Day Schools) are affiliated with the Conservative Movement, do they teach Conservative Judaism? Should it be the mission of these schools to inform the student body as to the
For a full examination of the growth of the Day School, see Eduardo Rauch’s article “The Jewish Day School in America: A Critical History and Contemporary Dilemmas in Cooper and Hunt (pp. 147-157). Also, Steven M. Cohen’s article “Day School Parents in Conservative Synagogues” in The North American Study of Conservative Synagogues and Their Members 1995-96 (pp. 18-19). 4 There were 72 Conservative Jewish Day Schools (70 affiliated with the Solomon Schechter Association) as of 1999 according to the United Jewish Communities and JESNA report of the Task Force on Jewish Day Schools. Further, many of the Non-Denominational Schools boast a heavy concentration of Conservative affiliated families as well.
Miller 9 ideals of the Conservative Movement? Should these schools promote the Movement as the ideal form of Judaism in America today? The Conservative Day School Movement and the Solomon Schechter Day School Association officially began in 1951 with the founding of the first Day School sponsored by a Conservative synagogue, the Beth El Day School in Rockaway Park, NY. That same year, and in the subsequent year, the United Synagogue Commission on Education developed the “foundation schools.” These schools eventually led to an intense and enriched congregational school program. The first official Solomon Schechter Day School, named after the eminent scholar and founder of the United Synagogue of America,5 was organized in Queens, New York in 1956. Additionally, the United Synagogue Commission on Jewish Education organized the Day School Education Committee and sponsored national conferences on Day School Education. The function of these conferences was to encourage individual efforts and provide assistance to individual schools. It was not until 1965 that the First Conference of Solomon Schechter Day Schools took place in New York City to structure an Association of Solomon Schechter Day Schools. This association, still in place today, sets standards, provides cooperative framework for all existing Day Schools, coordinates various programs, and stimulates the creation of new Solomon Schechter Day Schools. The Schechter Day School Association’s mission, as stated on its website, is “to strengthen the capacity of its member schools for assuring a meaning-filled Jewish present and future for their students, their families, and the Jewish community” (USCJ Website). The Association provides resources to increase the knowledge and skill base of lay leaders and
Now known as the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.
Miller 10 professionals in the Movement’s Day Schools. It also promotes collaboration among its member schools and fosters the development of curriculum. Dr. Robert Abramson, Director of the Department of Education of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism and its SSDS Association presented his vision statement for Solomon Schechter Day Schools at the Biennial Conference of the Solomon Schechter Day School Association in 2002. He explained that the Conservative Movement’s Schechter Day Schools have shown that excellence in Jewish and general education co-exists. This, he noted “is, indeed, one of the major contributions of Conservative Judaism to North American Jewry.” A former head of school and an ordained Conservative Rabbi, Dr. Abramson further explains in his vision that “Insistence on excellence in both general and Jewish studies is at the very essence of the Conservative Movement” (USCJ Website). The Solomon Schechter Day Schools are clear in their intention to cultivate their students Jewishly focusing on prayer, the study of Torah, social action, love for all humanity, the observance of the commandments, the Hebrew language, and a love for the modern State of Israel. Each of these goals is informed by Conservative Judaism. Thus, the overall approach and vision of the Conservative Day School is one that is indirectly connected to the Conservative Movement. The treatment of each of the core subjects presented in the schools is a Conservative one, but it is seldom explicitly stated as such. Each Day School operates as an individual institution, but must comply with several key regulations governed by the Association. This adherence to the fundamental standards of the Conservative Movement maintains a Conservative atmosphere in the schools, as does the cooperation and consultation that exists among the administrators of these schools.
Miller 11 The Solomon Schechter Day School Association articulates its agenda in a list of twelve specific objectives. The only reference to Conservative Judaism, however, is in objectives #9 and #10, in which the Association mentions its goal “to serve as an advocate for cooperative efforts among individuals and interested groups for the establishment of additional Conservative/Masorti6 schools worldwide and with all of the arms of the Conservative Movement to foster Solomon Schechter Day School education” (USCJ Website). It does not purport to help individual schools in the network teach about Conservative Judaism to its students, nor does it state that Conservative Jewish role models should be part of the Schechter school community. However, in the description of its partnership between Solomon Schechter Day Schools and the parents of the students, it does state, “Building on the principles and beliefs of the Conservative Movement and the values of modernity - individual conscience, human rights, active participation as citizens of a democracy, intellectual honesty, embracing the canons of critical and scientific thought – we create a foundation for our students to meet the challenges of contemporary life” (USCJ Website).
CURRENT PRACTICES Each individual Solomon Schechter Day School is guided by its own vision and maintains its own unique curriculum. Therefore, the current practice of each Conservative Day School varies. However, by and large, each school utilizes the Conservative approach to the study of texts and is influenced by Conservative Judaism with regard to prayer, egalitarianism, kashrut, and other religious standards. These areas
The Masorti Movement is a pluralistic, religious movement in Israel, affiliated with Conservative Judaism.
Miller 12 are all within the ideology of Conservative Judaism, but that fact is never articulated outright. For example, Schechter students are encouraged to develop the skills of literary analysis in the course of their Torah classes, but this is not explicitly stated as a Conservative Judaism approach to biblical scholarship. Current and former Conservative Day School parents generally responded to questions asking their feelings regarding the school’s approach to Conservative Judaism with some resentment toward the school for its failure to articulate a coherent Conservative Judaism curricular program. Some parents reported they were satisfied with the school’s curriculum, but would appreciate more Conservative Jewish experiential extra-curricular opportunities. One parent commented, “I think it’s a terrible shame that we pay so much to educate our children and they learn nothing about Conservative Judaism per se. Any education regarding the movements happens at home” (Written Response to Author’s Questionnaire). Charlotte Abramson, a seasoned veteran Schechter Day School teacher and administrator, echoed the fact that there is implied Conservative Judaism taught in the Conservative Movement’s schools, but the basic principles of the Movement are not directly instilled in students. In an interview, she noted, “My students never associated what they were learning, or the way in which they were learning, with a specific Conservative Judaism approach. I certainly taught Chumash [the first five books of the Torah with commentaries] with a Conservative approach, but I did not specifically tell the students my intentions or why that was specifically a Conservative approach.” She acknowledged that the way in which we speak of Conservative Judaism and its ideology is different today than it was two decades ago. However, Mrs. Abramson also believes
Miller 13 that educators in Conservative Day Schools are doing the students a disservice by only implying Conservative Judaism in the classroom. “We are not giving them enough information. They need to know why they are learning Torah in such a fashion for example” (Abramson Interview). A current ninth grade public school student who attended a Schechter Day School for middle school recounts, “We briefly spoke (for about 1 hour) on the different beliefs concerning who wrote the Torah – we spoke about what Conservative, Orthodox, and Reform believe” (Written Response to Author’s Questionnaire). A current Schechter student wrote, “We never had assemblies or classes specifically to discuss conservative [sic] Judaism. We learned about and heard from conservative [sic] Jews but never about the ideaologies [sic] behind their being conservative [sic] Jews” (Written Response to Author’s Questionnaire). Rabbi Jim Rogozen, a Schechter Day School Headmaster, explained that his school instituted a three-year Jewish History course, with the final year dedicated to the “modern period” with a survey of the different movements in Judaism. “We do not, however, go out of our way to use the ‘C’ word because this is confusing for kids. We also don’t want them to associate basic observance or study methods as being unique to the Conservative Movement” (Written Response to Author’s Questionnaire). When posed with the question, “Do you feel you will have a solid understanding of the history, ideology, and current makeup of the Conservative Movement at the end of the eighth grade,” most current students responded in the negative. Many mentioned being aware that their school was affiliated with the Conservative Movement, but that there was never any overt mention or explanation of a Conservative ideology with regard
Miller 14 to practice or belief. A current student in the Jewish Theological Seminary’s undergraduate program, who previously attended a Schechter Day School through the eighth grade, noted, “The ideology and tenets of Conservative Judaism are hinted at subconsciously in day school, but are not taught. It was not until attending the Seminary that I began to discover the truth behind our branch of the faith” (Written Response to Author’s Questionnaire). On the issue of a comparative Judaism approach, one parent of a Schechter alumnus explained that teachers describe the various movements of Judaism in black and white terms. “At SSDS NJ our kids didn’t have a course or specific focus looking at similarities or differences of the streams [i.e., denominations]. However, some teachers would say ‘This is how X does it, but Y does it this way’” (Written Response to Author’s Questionnaire). Another current Schechter parent concurred, “[Conservative Judaism’s ideology is not taught [in any formal way]. But I recently heard that my daughter’s fifth grade teacher made some attempt to introduce some comparison of Conservative versus Orthodox Judaism into the classroom. She said, ‘Only Orthodox walk to shul on Shabbat’” (Written Response to Author’s Questionnaire). Rabbi Josh Elkin explains, “Some schools are doing an adequate job of [making Conservative Judaism more explicit] in certain areas” (Phone Interview). In recent years, many Schechter schools have created new jobs, such as the Rabbi-in-Residence position, to bring more exemplars of Conservative Judaism into the schools. One Schechter middle school implemented a Beit Midrash program several years ago in which Conservative rabbis from the community visit the school once a week to study rabbinic texts and practical halakhic (Jewish legal) issues with the eighth graders. Many schools
Miller 15 also hold shabbatonim [weekend retreats] where the students are able to experience Shabbat within a Conservative Jewish framework. These initiatives are a good start; however, more explicit ways to bring Conservative Judaism into the schools should be mandated.
THE NEED FOR A CONSERVATIVE CURRICULUM “An important issue for the future of Conservative Judaism in America is the extent to which the younger generation affirms Conservative Judaism” (Kosmin and Keysar 20). A comparison between the numbers of synagogue affiliated Jews who identify as Conservative in the National Jewish Population Study of 1990 and the one recently completed in 2000-1 is reason for Conservative Movement leaders and educators to be concerned. Earlier this year Rabbi Paul Menitoff, Executive Vice President of the Reform Movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis, published an essay arguing that the Conservative Movement will cease to exist within several decades (Berkofsky/JTA Website). He explained that based on current trends, Conservative Jews likely will move either to the more liberal Reform Movement or to the more traditional Orthodox world. His predictions were quickly refuted by leaders in the Reform and Conservative movements. However, Conservative Jewish educators can use his sentiments as further motivation for beginning to teach about the ideology of Conservative Judaism more explicitly and to inspire Conservative youth to embrace a Conservative Jewish lifestyle as they mature.
Miller 16 It might have been taken for granted that the past generations of Conservative Jews (today’s Schechter students’ parents and grandparents) would remain affiliated in the Conservative Movement in their adult years, but this cannot be assumed of this young cadre of Day School students. In the Jewish identity survey of Conservative Jewish youth conducted by sociologists Barry Kosmin and Ariela Keysar, forty-four percent of the teenagers surveyed (high school students who had been first polled during their Bar/Bat Mitzvah year) responded that they could consider affiliating with the Reform Movement as adults. Twenty-four percent agreed with the statement “I don’t really think of myself as a Conservative Jew” (Kosmin and Keysar 20-21). These statistics inform us as to the denomination-specific identity issues of the future of Conservative Judaism. These young people, many of whom are within the reach of Schechter teachers, must be exposed to more than just a basic understanding of Conservative Judaism ideology. Their parents might have felt that a cursory awareness of the tenets of the Movement was sufficient, but this generation demands more. Today, there is more switching between denominations than ever before. The NJPS study reports that nearly half of all adult Jews who were raised Conservative no longer consider themselves Conservative.7 Further, among current adult Jews, identification with Conservative Judaism has declined over time (NJPS).8 Adherents of Conservative Judaism affiliate with Conservative synagogues for various reasons, but often the reasons cited do not include an attraction to the principles of Conservative Judaism. Regardless of the rationale for their affiliation (e.g., geographical convenience, rabbinic preference, influence of friends, etc.), these congregants must be educated about
See Appendix I. See Appendix II.
Miller 17 the positives that Conservative Judaism has to offer so that they, and their children, will remain affiliated with the Conservative Movement. The NJPS study also shows that nearly half of all Conservative Jewish adults are fifty-five years old or older (NJPS),9 informing Movement leaders that the younger generation must be cultivated and encouraged to remain affiliated in the Movement into their adult years. This can only happen by educating the young generation of the Movement, especially those attending the Movement’s Schechter schools. Studies, such as the ones conducted by the Ratner Center, show that Jewish Day School students positively affect the religious observance and Jewish content knowledge of their parents (Kosmin and Keysar). Parents may not choose to send their children to a Conservative Jewish Day School for reasons of Jewish learning and religious living, yet the Day School population should be a focus nevertheless. As Conservative Jewish leaders were seeding Day Schools in America during the middle part of the last century, they found themselves defending the purpose. With regard to sending Conservative youth to the many established Orthodox Day Schools, Rabbi Harry Halpern explained, “We cannot be content with such schools established by other religious groups if we truly believe that Conservative Judaism has a distinctive point of view… In such [Conservative] schools, we can convince our children that it is possible to live simultaneously in two cultures” (1962 RA Convention Proceedings 45). In Solomon Schechter Day Schools, there has been a concerted effort in recent years to present Torah study with an intensified Conservative Judaism approach (i.e., literary analysis) to text through the MaToK curriculum. This curricular initiative exemplifies the approaches of Conservative Judaism by encouraging students to
See Appendix III.
Miller 18 understand Torah within its historical context and by embracing the many perspectives of the Biblical Narrative. This program is currently used in many Schechter schools in grades three to six. These students, being presented with the textual Tradition of the Jewish people in a Conservative manner, should know more about the ideology and historical context from which that derives. Until an appropriate explanation of the Conservative Jewish milieu, the Movement’s history, and its ideology is provided, the students are left without the full understanding of the richness of this modern expression of Judaism. Lastly, knowledgeable spokespeople are needed to inform Klal Yisrael (the greater Jewish community) of the ideals of the Movement. Having thousands of students enrolled in the Movement’s schools does not automatically create informed and passionate Conservative Jews. These students must learn about Conservative Judaism experientially in order to perpetuate the Movement. A coherent curriculum for use in Schechter Day Schools will show that Conservative Judaism has much to offer the Jewish community-at-large. The Conservative Judaism notion of “tradition and change,” its motto, can be applied to other areas of life. The methodology used in the Conservative Movement to advance the Jewish faith and its system of law into the future is beneficial to children as it helps them think systematically in new and advanced ways.
Miller 19 A PROPOSED CURRICULUM This paper does not detail a specific curriculum for implementation into a school; rather, it proposes ways to create a standard Conservative Judaism curriculum that could be used in Movement affiliated schools. Many questions must be answered before establishing a curriculum that will stimulate students to learn about Conservative Judaism and instill pride in them necessary to propagate the Movement into the future. Those charged with developing such a curriculum must determine how a more explicit curricular approach to Conservative Judaism would look. All activities suggested within this curriculum will draw upon the multiple intelligences of the learner as set forth initially by Prof. Howard Gardner.10 In setting forth a proposed curriculum on Conservative Judaism for Schechter Day Schools to adopt, it is valuable to consider Joseph Schwab’s four commonplaces of curriculum.11 The student, subject matter, teacher, and milieu must all be considered while laying out a curriculum that can make Conservative Judaism a more explicit component of the learning process in the Movement’s Day Schools. The roles of teacher and student need to be well defined in terms of their relationships to one another. The subject matter in our case relies heavily on how the leaders of the Conservative Movement define the core principles of Conservative Judaism today.12 Finally, the milieu consists of the context in which this curriculum will be presented. In addition to the Day School itself, the larger Jewish community (representing all denominations), including clergy and other community leaders, must be considered as well. According to
See Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences: The Theory in Practice (Basic Books, 1993). For more on Schwab’s curricular philosophy, see Science, Curriculum, and Liberal Education (University of Chicago Press, 1982). 12 Emet Ve-Emunah demonstrated that there exists more than one Conservative Judaism response to many theological issues. This aspect of the Movement’s ideology should be explained and embraced.
Miller 20 Schwab, each of these commonplaces is equal and they are cannot stand alone in a curriculum. The inherent problems in each of these commonplaces that must be taken into account will be addressed below. The age of the children is a matter of great importance to consider before tackling the subject matter. Most Schechter Day Schools are elementary and middle schools,13 and therefore, the curriculum should begin before the students enter high school. Further, in high school, many of these children will likely be involved in USY, the Conservative Movement’s high school youth program, and as such, they will be engaged in the subject within that context, albeit informally. The ideal grade to implement this curriculum in a Day School is the seventh grade. It is in this grade that the students begin attending Shabbat services regularly as a group to observe their classmates become b’nai mitzvah. This “Bar/Bat Mitzvah Year,” as it is often known, is a transitional year in the lives of these students. In participating in the observance of their classmates b’nai mitzvah, they will undoubtedly be visiting synagogues other than their family’s congregation (whether Conservative or another denomination), and questions may be raised as to the various practices within these congregations. They will hear rabbis speak from the pulpit who might talk about issues that are contradictory to what they have heard in the past from their family’s congregational rabbi(s). They will see minhagim (religious customs) that might seem strange to them. They also will notice varying levels of egalitarianism, liturgical alternatives, and different observance practices within these synagogues. These students should be prepared before this experience.
While many new Jewish Day High Schools are opening throughout the country, most of these are community schools (i.e., non-denominational).
Miller 21 Additionally, during this pivotal year, students will become introduced to the concept of chiyuv (religious obligation) and should be informed as to the Conservative Movement’s ideology vis-à-vis the halakhic system. The students at this age will also benefit greatly from the mentoring and advising by religious leaders that should be a component of this curriculum. A study of how key figures in the Movement understand the concept of commandedness in a Conservative Jewish context will further help the students comprehend Conservative Judaism and Jewish law. While there has been an expansion in the establishment of Jewish Day High Schools in recent years, interviews with administrators revealed that many Jewish Day School eighth graders still go on to public high schools upon completion of the middle school program. As such, it is imperative that these students be prepared for the transition by being proficient and comfortable in their form of Judaism. They should know the Conservative Movement’s viewpoint concerning interfaith dating and intermarriage before making the leap to a high school environment that incorporates nonJews. Additionally, high school may be the time to ready Conservative youth for college by emphasizing the standards of Shabbat and kashrut. However, for this to be successful, it should commence in the earlier grades and built upon later in high school. The Ratner Center study of Conservative congregants14 shows that Jewish students change in their theology and religious practice between the time they become bar or bat mitzvah and their high school graduation (Kosmin and Keysar).15 Therefore, it is crucial to imbue them with an understanding and appreciation for Conservative
Also see Dr. Jack Wertheimer’s Jews in the Center: Conservative Synagogues and their Members. (Rutgers University Press. New Brunswick, N.J., 2000). 15 See the results in “Four Up: The High School Years, 1995-1999. The Jewish Identity Development of the B’nai Mitzvah Class of 5755” by Barry A. Kosmin and Ariela Keysar (Ratner Center).
Miller 22 Judaism as a model of religious practice, study, and belief. These students are also making the choice separate from their parents about the level of their synagogue and extra-curricular involvement for the first time. Before they became bar or bat mitzvah, their participation in synagogue activities (formal and informal educational, social, religious, etc.), was likely the result of their parents’ demands. Overall, the seventh grade student is at a very impressionable age and will benefit from this curriculum on many levels. As stated above, this paper does not present a specific curriculum for use in Schechter Day Schools. However, it does make recommendations as to the four commonplaces such a curriculum must consider, and as such, the content is of supreme concern. Upon the publication and dissemination of Emet Ve-Emunah, the statement of principles of Conservative Judaism, many Conservative laity remained confused as to the fundamental tenets of the Movement. The statement therefore requires to be studied with guidance from those who authored it. Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, the Educational Projects Coordinator for Emet Ve-Emunah, wrote, “Individual Conservative Jews have written descriptions of Conservative ideology in the past, but Emet Ve-Emunah represents the first official articulation of the Movement’s philosophy. As such, it deserves considerable attention and study within the Movement. Such study, of course, requires that sources and educational suggestions be put in the hands of rabbis and educators” (Brown Preface). Dr. Steven Brown edited a substantial course guide for providing Jewish educators in both formal and informal settings with a clear and concise curriculum for exposing students to the concepts and principles in Emet Ve-Emunah. This course guide,
Miller 23 including its many activities, should be the basis for the content of the curriculum that will be created as a benchmark for educating the Movement’s day school student population about Conservative Jewish ideology. This guide is accessible for our target age group and flexible to be used in Day Schools. Therefore, it would not productive to “re-create the wheel.” Dr. Brown explains, “Clearly, Emet Ve-Emunah has an important role to play in our day schools” (Brown 125). Suggestions are made for intensifying the curriculum for Day School students and for utilizing more Hebrew in the source material and written exercises. The guide takes the student through the key points of understanding needed to conceptualize the Conservative Judaism ideology. It relies on activity worksheets within core modules to help the student personalize the core issues. The course guide with the general concepts of religious identity and the categorization of organized Judaism, focusing on origins and labels.16 It then focuses on the issues of God, revelation, Halakhah (Jewish law), the problem of evil, eschatology, brit (covenant and the relationship between God and the Jewish people), and prayer. These topics can be taught in a seventh grade Schechter classroom to facilitate the student’s writing of a personal theological statement. Such a writing exercise is beneficial to the student at this age since the b’nai mitzvah experience generates many perplexing questions of religious identity. The guide concludes with a module titled “The ideal Conservative Jew,” whose purpose is to help students realize their journey from the beginning of the curriculum to this point.17 Students are asked to read nine statements purporting to be characteristics of the ideal Conservative Jew. These general statements should elicit creative thinking and
See Appendix IV. See Appendix V.
Miller 24 discussion from the students. It calls for a class-wide sharing of personal theological statements (“God Statements”) as well as the students’ statements defining how they imagine the “Ideal Conservative Jew.” The curriculum, while based on the activities and source sheets contained in this Emet Ve-Emunah study guide, should also make use of Rabbi Elliot Dorff’s text From Our Ancestors to Our Descendents, originally designed for use in USY but suitable for the Day School curriculum as well. Students will also examine other aspects of Conservative Judaism and the Movement. Thus, the curriculum should include basic information detailing the history of the Movement. It will feature the key figures who helped to found the Movement and those who have sustained it with their leadership and guidance. The curriculum will also focus on the makeup of the Movement as an institution, highlighting its three main branches (school, lay organization, and rabbinic association18), and its many affiliates (e.g., men’s and women’s branches, youth organizations, etc.). The appropriate primer for this study is Rabbi Neil Gillman’s Conservative Judaism: The New Century. Students should also be presented with the ways in which Conservative Movement treats contemporary issues (e.g., homosexuality, women, bio-medical ethics). These “hot issues” should be treated on an age-appropriate level. Some schools may choose to go further in depth with the curriculum and investigate how Conservative Judaism interprets our ability to change Jewish law. For this pursuit, the section covering the Conservative Movement’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards in Dorff’s textbook is appropriate. The study of some teshuvot (legal responsa) of this committee might be of interest to some teachers.
School: The Jewish Theological Seminary and the University of Judaism in North America, as well as its campuses in Israel, Eastern Europe, and South America; Lay Organization: United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism; Rabbinic Association: The Rabbinical Assembly.
Miller 25 Everything is relative, and we cannot expect students to grasp the intricacies of Conservative Judaism without at least a cursory understanding of the other modern denominations in American Judaism. Therefore, comparative Judaism must be a key component of this curriculum. Many Schechter schools are already making strides to incorporate comparative Judaism into the curriculum. While Head of School of the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Boston, Rabbi Josh Elkin implemented a tefillah (prayer) workshop to help students learn about comparative Judaism. “The students would daven (pray) for forty minutes utilizing the liturgy and siddur of one of the movements, and then discuss the issues.” His goal was that the students would appreciate the differences that the various streams of Judaism had to offer. In this regard, he noted, “It is more important to have the students appreciate the differences rather than having the teacher teach the differences” (Phone Interview). Certainly, students in a trans-denominational community Day School, in which there is a greater representation from other movements, will be more exposed to a comparative study of the modern Jewish denominations. Students should be made aware of the various changes in the liturgy and in the siddur of the different denominations of Judaism based on theological and moral rationale. Visits to synagogues representing the different movements will be important experiential learning devices to help students embrace the differences that exist among them. Students will also have the chance to study different texts and question how various movements might study that particular text in its own unique way. Guest speakers will come to the school for a variety of forums discussing the contemporary issues of the day, as well as the fundamental theological questions that differentiate them
Miller 26 one from the other. Students may analyze statements made from leaders in each of the movements and have to identify the author. Jewish educators in Day Schools must inform the students about the different conceptions American Jews have of Judaism so they might appreciate the richness of Jewish life and the varieties of Jewish expression. After these students attend prayer services in different communities, the educators should ask them how it felt, and encourage them to consider the similarities and differences. Serious time constraints already exist in the daily schedule of a Day School due to the dual curricular model in place.19 Therefore, the curriculum that is created must be flexible enough to fit into the schedule of Day Schools. Some schools might choose to implement a curriculum that lasts for a full academic year, while others will choose to use a condensed version for half the year. Some schools may find it more desirable or practical to create mini-sessions and/or workshops to execute this curriculum. Ideally, this curriculum will be integrated into the other subject areas of the school curriculum. Examples of how this curriculum can be integrated will be seen throughout the school, and will vary based on the needs of each school. For instance, the Judaics teachers may work with the Social Studies teachers to integrate a study of European Jewish history during the Enlightenment Period with the rise of the Reform Movement (and later the Conservative Movement) in Germany. More specifically, students can utilize the methodology of examining literature garnered in a language arts class to comprehend the critical approach to Bible study in their Chumash class. A Rabbinics class can integrate with a science class to delve further in depth on various contemporary halakhic issues. For example, students can research the intricacies of the kashrut issues
Some Jewish Day Schools have a 60% (general/secular studies/40% (Judaics) split, while others report a 50%/50% split in the dual curriculum (based on personal interviews with administrators).
Miller 27 surrounding swordfish with their science teacher (who may or may not be Jewish) and then study the Conservative Movement’s responsum on the kashrut of swordfish with a Conservative rabbi. Other opportunities for integration will be suggested in the curriculum, and schools will have the freedom to explore other avenues they find useful for their individual community. A curriculum is only as good as the teachers who will implement it. Thus, many schools will find that the ideal and the realistic are not the same in this regard. Schools that retain a rabbi-in-residence or a Conservative rabbi as the head of school will find that these individuals may be the best to model and teach this curriculum. Other schools may rely upon teachers in the Judaics department, while other schools may ask Conservative clergy in the community to come in to the school to teach this curriculum. The students will benefit from any educator who personally affiliates with the Conservative Movement due to the important function of role modeling an ideology. It should be clear that this curriculum will not be as effective with only a textbook approach. Rather, it must communicate the benefits of living a Jewish life imbued with the principles of Conservative Judaism. Dr. Steven Brown, Dean of The Jewish Theological Seminary’s Graduate School of Jewish Education, explains that not only should there be a curriculum implemented in Schechter schools, but there must also be a culture change (Brown, Personal Interview). The milieu of the school must be a Conservative Jewish one. Teachers must maintain a library of books about the Conservative Movement, including books by Conservative authors in their classrooms for quick reference and suggested readings. Schools that have the ability to employ Conservative rabbis-in-residence should do so. Additionally, role
Miller 28 modeling should permeate throughout the school, in the form of clergy, educators, and advisers. Family programs at the grade level should be created in which students can experience Jewish living, through ritual practice, with their parents. Shabbatonim (weekend retreats) should be implemented to display religious observance in a Conservative framework during Shabbat. Area rabbis and cantors should be welcomed into the school on a regular basis fulfilling supportive and advisory roles with the students (both their congregants’ children and other children in the school). For the success of this curriculum, each commonplace must be considered and put into a Conservative Jewish structure.
DIFFICULTIES AND IMPEDIMENTS Before formally creating a standard curriculum about Conservative Judaism for Solomon Schechter Day Schools, it is essential to investigate the barriers to the implementation of such a curriculum. First, there must be willingness on the part of the parent body. Parents have a variety of reasons for enrolling their children in day schools, not all of which are directly related to assuring a quality Jewish education, learning about a specific denomination of modern Judaism, or experiencing Conservative Judaism on a daily basis. In the Ratner Center’s study of Conservative congregants, Dr. Steven M. Cohen explains, “Some unknown number of parents have [sic.] been enrolling their children in Jewish day schools for reasons such as social status, community affiliation, or interest in high-quality private school education” (Wertheimer, Jewish Identity and Religious Commitment 19).20 These alternative reasons, however, do not serve as a
The issue of parents choosing a Jewish Day School for their children’s education for reasons other than the Jewish education was raised from the beginning of the Day School movement in the Conservative
Miller 29 legitimate excuse to abandon the goal of a Conservative Judaism curriculum in the Movement’s Day Schools. In an interview for Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly with Professor Samuel Freedman, one teacher in a Jewish Day School spoke of the intention of many Jewish Day School parents, saying, “Parents are looking around and saying, ‘If I want my child to be involved with Jews and marry Jews and they have Jewish values, I have to put them in the best environment for that’” (Freedman 1). Further, most Solomon Schechter Day Schools have many students whose families affiliate in movements other than Conservative Judaism.21 Only 3-4% of Reform youth are enrolled in Day Schools, and there are very few Day Schools affiliated with the Reform Movement. Therefore, Conservative Day Schools should not have to conform for the Reform students and their families. It should be understood by the families of the Reform students that Schechter Day Schools are affiliated with the Conservative Movement, and as such, will advocate a Conservative framework in all areas of the educational and communal system. Many Orthodox families also choose Schechter schools to educate their children (as high as 20-25% in some schools),22 and these families similarly must accept that a Conservative approach will permeate the school community. Dr. Steven Brown explained, “When I ran a Schechter school, I made it very clear to the Orthodox parents that it was a Schechter school. Their daughters would be expected to read Torah, to lead davenen, etc.” (Brown, Personal Interview).
Movement (see Rabbi Henry Goldberg’s treatment of this subject in the 1962 journal of the Rabbinical Assembly Convention, pp. 46-57). 21 Schechter Day Schools, according to the mandate of the Solomon Schechter Day School Association, admit all Jewish children as defined by the Conservative Movement’s interpretations of Halakhah (i.e., matrilineal descent only). 22 Based on interviews with school administrators.
Miller 30 Many non-Orthodox Day Schools have many secular Israeli and Orthodox teachers on their faculties. Therein lies the question of whether these teachers will be willing and/or competent to teach about Conservative Judaism. The ultimate preference is to have teachers who are steeped in the Conservative Movement and eager to present the curriculum. However, recognizing that many schools will have to make due with the current faculty, teacher training will be in order. It must be determined what is necessary to teach and prepare teachers to put a Conservative Judaism curriculum into practice. Teacher training of secular Israeli teachers has been employed for the MaToK (Mivtza TaNaKHi Konservativi) curriculum and, in large part, it has been successful (Brown, Personal Interview). In the 1970s, Rabbi Robert Gordis acknowledged that teacher orientation is a very real problem in Conservative Day Schools. In his school, he used a series of meetings for the entire faculty in which problems of religious outlook and personal philosophy were discussed. He writes, “The teachers welcomed [these sessions] because the school became an instrument for their education as well.” The Orthodox teachers “began to develop an understanding and a respect for the goals and approaches of Conservative Judaism” (Gordis 167). It might be presumed that the best forum for preparing educators to teach about Conservative Judaism would be at the Movement’s academic institution (JTS). However, while JTS has seen a steady rise in admissions for its Graduate School of Education, its current dean, Dr. Steven Brown, noted that “The Davidson School [of Education] is open to students of all backgrounds and is not dedicated to preparing them all to be Conservative Jewish educators” (Written Response to Author’s Questionnaire). A
Miller 31 professor in the school, Dr. Carol Ingall, voiced a similar sentiment, explaining that it should not be assumed that “the Davidson School [teaches] about Conservative Judaism” (Written Response to Author’s Questionnaire). Further, many graduates of this school choose professions in areas other than the Movement’s Day Schools, thereby creating a dearth of qualified and talented individuals who are competent to teach about Conservative Judaism in the Schechter Day Schools. The overarching impediment to making such a curriculum a reality is the lack of time to do so. Most Schechter school administrators and teachers feel that there already exists a problem with the lack of time in the day to present the current requirements in an adequate and coherent fashion. Recognizing that this is a priority for the sake of the Conservative Movement in particular, and for the Jewish community in general, schools should seek ways to bring this into their educational program. For many schools, the answer will be to use the curriculum to create an integrated approach as described above. When asked if they would be willing and able to teach a class about Conservative Judaism’s ideology, many educators questioned whether there was such a thing. Certainly, if there is no defined ideology then it cannot be taught, and therein lies the problem that the Conservative Movement is still maturing and still in the process of defining itself. Rabbi Robert Gordis realized this difficulty as early as 1978. Our day schools should be dedicated to the inculcation of the philosophy of Conservative Judaism. This is a very difficult area, because sometimes one has the feeling that we possess a tremendous apparatus of institutions with far too little of the momentum of a movement. We certainly cannot inculcate an attitude on Judaism until Conservative Judaism makes its point of view clear. I am thoroughly aware of the differences which exist within our group. At the same time, there is a sufficient core of fundamental principles for Conservative Judaism upon which virtually
Miller 32 all of us agree. These ideas ought to be presented without apology, as a fundamental aspect of the program of the day school (Gordis 163). In the U.S., Conservative Judaism officially came into being with the establishment of a school to train new rabbis in America. The Jewish Theological Seminary was created in 1886 with the first class of rabbinic leaders beginning the following year. However, it was not until a full century later that Emet Ve-Emunah: A Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism was published. This small (less than sixty pages) booklet puts forth the ideology of the movement, often legitimating two positions on various issues. As the statement’s authoring committee explains in the introduction, “A growing number of American Jews joined the ranks of Conservative Judaism, demonstrating that the Movement met a felt need in the burgeoning American Jewish community. This numerical success strengthened the conviction among many leaders of the Movement that there was little need for spelling out in detail the guiding principles and subtler nuances of the Movement on such fundamentals as God and man, Israel and the world, ethics and ritual” (Emet Ve-Emunah 8). Whether the Movement has done an adequate job of coherently explaining its ideology to its membership is not sufficient reason to not present this ideology to Schechter students. Further, this education may lead these young people to help better define this ideology in the future based on their study of the subject as youngsters. We must also take into consideration the fact that today’s youth may be apathetic to religion as an institution. If this is the case, then it may not be practical to impart Judaism to them through the lens of a particular institution or denomination. In a study titled Are American Youth Alienated From Organized Religion, American twelfth graders
Miller 33 were surveyed to measure evaluative attitudes toward the established religion of parents and churches. The authors conclude that the large majority of these students “do not appear to be particularly alienated from or hostile toward organized religion in the United States” (National Study of Youth and Religion 19). However, their analysis shows more differences across religious affiliations and denominations. They found that “Nonreligious and ‘other’-religion youth – and to some extent Jewish youth [emphasis is mine] – appear to be comparatively the most alienated from institutional religion” (National Study of Youth and Religion 19-20).23 Certainly, this religious apathy and malaise must be taken into account. Optimistically, however, these results were found among high school seniors. An effort to introduce a coherent curriculum on Conservative Judaism to Schechter students at the middle school level has the potential to change the tide among some of our young people before these apathetic feelings toward institutional religion might arise. Rabbi Leon A. Morris, in an article appearing in New York’s The Jewish Week, addressed the issue of post-denominationalism in the Jewish community today. He writes, “Denominations don’t speak to many of my generation. This increasing irrelevance of denominational labels is not because Reform is becoming more traditional and Conservative is moving more to the left. Rather, it is because of a widespread reluctance of many young Jews to stake out one camp, one institution, one movement in Jewish life as our own. We resist categorization. We don’t want to be labeled. We seek a model of Jewish life that is self-designed” (Morris). Post-Denominational Judaism is a
The authors of this study theorize that this is the case because those youth either consider themselves not religious or belong to minority religions in America (as is the case with the Jewish students). The overall figures for Jewish twelfth graders in 1996 responding to whether they agree with parents’ ideas about religion are as follows: Very similar, 19.0%; Mostly Similar, 54.5%; Mostly different, 15.2%; Very different, 4.4%; Don’t Know, 6.9% (National Study of Youth and Religion, 19).
Miller 34 much-discussed topic today, and it raises the concern that if the Jewish community is moving to post-denominationalism, schools should not be focusing on promoting one specific movement over and above any other. There are certainly those who wish to see the Jewish community diverge from the main denominations,24 and those who consider the Jewish community to already be in a period of post-denominationalism.25 Based upon the affiliation trends of American Jewry, the denominations still matter and movement specific teaching is appropriate and necessary in Day Schools. A united Jewish community is a value for many in that the schisms in Judaism cause contention among the different movements and general apathy toward organized Judaism. However, the denominations are helpful in giving direction to Jews with regard to religious observance and theology, as well as providing answers to current issues and ethical dilemmas. The labels do not adequately describe the general ideology of the particular movements, but they do bring a sense of order to the religion. It is up to the individual movements to provide ideological positions that serve as guides within the movement and then present these positions coherently to its membership, especially to its young congregants. Rabbi Josh Elkin surmises that no matter how many unaffiliated community Day Schools open, “people are going to fall into these denominations, and therefore we should teach about them” (Phone Interview).
I.e., Reform, Reconstructionist, Conservative, and Orthodox. A trans-denomination rabbinical school has opened in Boston, advertisements for unaffiliated and postdenominational rabbis appear in Jewish newspapers like the Forward, and community Day Schools (through the high school level) are sprouting up throughout the country.
Miller 35 CONCLUSIONS If Conservative Movement leaders want to perpetuate Conservative Judaism, then it is imperative to have the educational institutions (most notably the Day Schools) introduce the next generation to the values of the Movement. Day Schools are the ideal breeding ground for creating active and knowledgeable Conservative Movement leaders for the future. This was one of the paramount objectives of the Movement leaders who founded these Day Schools over half a century ago.26 A curriculum that is integrated with other subjects within the school must be utilized in the Movement’s Day Schools. Perhaps, we need only look back a few decades for the inspiration to see this objective to fruition. In the Day School Rabbi Robert Gordis organized in Long Island,27 he introduced a course called Yesodot Hayahadut (“The Foundations of Judaism”), which “set forth clearly and forthrightly the viewpoint of Conservative Judaism, while dealing fairly and sympathetically with Orthodox and Reform Judaism” (Gordis 163-4). A cadre of enthusiastic and knowledgeable educators possessing an interest in the Conservative Movement must be trained to teach the history, tenets, institutions, and contemporary issues of the Movement to the Day School youth. While a Movementwide curriculum should be created for all Solomon Schechter Day Schools, the outcomes will vary by school based on the effort put into the implementation of such a curriculum. Further, each school’s dedication to this project will depend on the goals and the overall outlook of the school based on this matter. However, it is hoped that these schools will consider their namesake, and be committed to keeping alive all that Professor Solomon Schechter worked for in instituting Conservative Judaism. It is appropriate to conclude
See the collection of essays in the 1962 Proceedings of the Rabbinical Assembly Convention for more on the aims of starting Conservative Jewish Day Schools in America. 27 Now called the Robert Gordis Day School.
Miller 36 with the words of the chief founder of this author’s Day School in suburban Detroit who commented in 1962 about the importance of a Day School curriculum that purports the fundamentals of Conservative Judaism. Rabbi Jacob Siegel stated, “Conservative Judaism has something distinctive… to offer to the American Jewish child... When a Day School curriculum involves our children in a well-rounded Judaism which is synthesized with the sancta of democracy and integrated with the highest values of the American dream…, it lends Conservative Judaism a positive form, a distinctive raison d’etre, and a distinctive means of survival” (1962 Rabbinical Assembly Convention Proceedings 75).
Miller 37 Bibliography Abramson, Charlotte. Personal Interview. December 29, 2003. Abramson, Robert A. “A Vision Statement for Solomon Schechter Day Schools.” Presented at the Biennial Conference of the Solomon Schechter Day School Association on December 15, 2002. United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism (Internet). www.uscj.org. Ackerman, Walter I. “The Americanization of Jewish Education.” Judaism 24:4, Fall 1975. Addison, Howard A. Shutafo Partners with God: Living and Believing as a Conservative Jew. United Synagogue of America Commission on Jewish Education. New York, 1991. Adler, Bess. “The Vision of a School: Solomon Schechter Day School of Essex and Union.” Paper submitted for Perspectives in Jewish Education (Prof. Carol Ingall). November 25, 2003. Berkofsky, Joe. “Reform leader’s swipe sparks angry rebuttals from Conservatives.” Jewish Telegraphic Agency website. March 2, 2004. http://www.jta.org/. Brown, Steven M. Willing, Learning and Striving: A Course Guide for Teaching Jewish Youth Based on Emet Ve-Emunah. Edited by Robert Abramson. The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, The Rabbinical Assembly, United Synagogue of America for The Commission on the Philosophy of Conservative Judaism. New York, 1988. Brown, Steven M. Personal Interview. April 29, 2004. Dorff, Elliot. From Our Ancestors to Our Descendents. United Synagogue Youth. New York, 1996. Elkin, Josh. Telephone Interview. January 7, 2004. Epstein School, The. Tochnit Limudim - Curriculum Guide. Atlanta, 2000. Freedman, Samuel. “Jewish Day Schools.” Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly. Public Broadcasting Company (Internet Edition). Episode 344. June 30, 2000. www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week344/p-feature.html. Gillman, Neil. Conservative Judaism: The New Century. Behrman House. New Jersey, 1996. Gordis, Robert (Chairman), et. al. Emet Ve-Emunah: Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism. The Jewish Theological Seminary of America, The Rabbinical Assembly, United Synagogue of America, et. al. New York, 1988.
Miller 38 Gordis, Robert. Understanding Conservative Judaism. The Rabbinical Assembly. New York, 1978. Greenbaum, Michael B. “Strengthening the Conservative Movement.” Conservative Judaism (Vol. 56, No. 1, Fall 2003). Harlow, Jules, Ed. Rabbinical Assembly. Proceedings of the 62nd Annual Rabbinical Assembly Convention, 1962, Volume XXVI. Rabbinical Assembly. New York, 1963. Klagsbrun, Francine. “A Lesson from Lubavitch.” The Jewish Week (New York). February 13, 2004. Kosmin, Barry A. and Ariela Keysar. “Four Up” The High School Years: The Jewish Identity Development of the B’nai Mitzvah Class of 5755. The Jewish Theological Seminary (Funded by the Avi Chai Foundation). New York, 2000. Margolis, Daniel J. and Elliot S. Schoenberg. Curriculum, Community, Commitment: Views on the American Jewish Day School in Memory of Bennett I. Solomon. Behrman House. New Jersey, 1996. Margolis, Daniel J. and Schoenberg, Elliot Salo, Eds. Curriculum Community Commitment: Views on the American Jewish Day School in Memory of Bennett I. Solomon. Behrman House. New Jersey, 1992. Morris, Leon A. “Beyond, Or Mixing, Denominations” The Jewish Week (New York). March 7, 2003. Rauch, Eduardo. “The Jewish Day School in America: A Critical History and Contemporary Dilemma.” Religion and Schooling in Contemporary America: Confronting Our Cultural Pluralism (Garland Reference Library of Social Science, Vol. 1127). Edited by James C. Carper and Thomas C. Hunt. Garland Publishing. New York, 1997. Rosenthal, Gilbert S. The Many Faces of Judaism: Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist & Reform. Behrman House. New Jersey, 1978. Schick, Marvin. A Census of Jewish Day Schools in the United States. Avi Chai Foundation. New York, 2000. Schiff, Alvin Irwin. The Jewish Day School in America. Jewish Education Committee Press. New York, 1966. Schorsch, Ismar. The Sacred Cluster: The Core Values of Conservative Judaism. Department of Communications of The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. New York, Undated.
Miller 39 Schwab, Joseph. Science, Curriculum, and Liberal Education. University of Chicago Press. Chicago, 1982. Smiley, Mark. Telephone Interview. January 8, 2004. Smith, Christian, et. al. “Are American Youth Alienated from Organized Religion? A Research Report of the National Study of Youth and Religion.” National Study of Youth and Religion, Number 6. Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 2004. United Jewish Communities. National Jewish Population Survey 2000-1. “Presentation of Findings.” UJC. February 2004. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (http://www.uscj.org) . Website. Last accessed on April 27, 2004. Wertheimer, Jack, Ed. Jews in the Center: Conservative Synagogues and their Members. Rutgers University Press. New Brunswick, N.J., 2000. Wertheimer, Jack. Conservative Synagogues and Their Members: Highlights of the North American Survey of 1995-96. The Jewish Theological Seminary. New York, 1996. Wertheimer, Jack. Jewish Identity and Religious Commitment: The North American Survey of Conservative Synagogues and Their Members 1995-96. The Jewish Theological Seminary. New York, 1997. Yanowitz, Bennett (Chairman). Report of the Task Force on Jewish Day Schools. United Jewish Communities. New York, 1999.
Miller 40 Appendix I
Miller 41 Appendix II
Miller 42 Appendix III
Miller 43 Appendix IV
Source: Brown, Steven M. Willing, Learning and Striving: A Course Guide for Teaching Jewish Youth Based on Emet Ve-Emunah. JTSA; RA; USCJ, 1988.
Miller 44 Appendix V
Source: Brown, Steven M. Willing, Learning and Striving: A Course Guide for Teaching Jewish Youth Based on Emet Ve-Emunah. JTSA; RA; USCJ, 1988.
Miller 45 Appendix VI For day school students, alumni, parents, administrators, and teachers:
Is your day school a Solomon Schechter school? Is your day school a community/non-denom. school? How many students attend your school? How long has your school been in existence? Y Y N N
Please respond to each question in the text boxes below (the fields will expand as you type).
Is Modern American Judaism part of your middle school curriculum? Please describe:
Is Conservative Judaism’s ideology taught in your school? Please describe:
Does your school have Conservative Jewish role models (rabbis, teachers, etc.)? Please describe:
What resources (books, sourcebooks, guest speakers, etc.) does your school use to teach about Conservative Judaism?
Does your school teach about the other streams/movements/denominations of Judaism? Please describe in detail (including which grade level they learn about this: (If not, please explain if there are plans to incorporate this into the curriculum)
Do you feel the students at your school will have a solid understanding of the history, ideology, and current makeup of the Conservative Movement at the end of the 8th grade?
Does your school encourage extra-curricular activities within the Conservative Movement (e.g., Kadimah and USY, Ramah camps, etc.)?
What is your school’s relationship with neighboring clergy (Conservative and from other movements)?
Please describe the prayer service (minyan) options available at your school:
With which movement does your family affiliate? [For Parents: Why did you choose this school for your child(ren)?]
In your opinion, does your school do enough to teach about Conservative Judaism and the other movements?
Which methodology is used to teach Torah at your school? Is a Conservative approach explained?
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