My oldest son just started high school where they do the Baccalaureate curriculum. It is an international curriculum that is accepted in many countries in the world and provides access to universities across the world. I was attracted to it because I felt that it suited us as Jews, that wherever he went, or if we moved around, he could have his high school education recognized. It is resilient to political change and natural disasters.
But while my son’s secular studies empower him to succeed, if we would need to move, what would happen to his Jewish studies or his Jewish experience? If you currently live in a community where there is a Jewish school or Sunday program, what skills are your children learning that are universal enough, they would serve them if you chose to move someplace else?
I believe that the test of Jewish Education is this: If it is resilient and robust enough and can be easily translated in more than one country and if it can survive in more than one place. Yes, I am daring. But with the raging anti-semitism in the world right now – just say – if you had to get up and leave your country of residence to go somewhere else. Would your child’s Jewish education be robust enough to transfer with you? What is the minimum of skill and knowledge they need in order for their Judaism to be so built in to their identity that no matter where they go – it can be fully used and realized in their new context?
When I started the Zehud Jewish Online School, I set myself the target of re-designing Jewish education to what it objectively needed to be – as a foundation of identity, and one that could be universal. That wherever a family is located around the world they can be a part of this special school and community. They will receive an education and skills that is relevant in any Jewish community across the world.
At the Zehud Jewish Online School we do full Hebrew immersion, speaking and reading, along with Judaics in Hebrew, so holidays and common concepts became a common vocabulary for the many. If concepts and holidays were learned let’s say in Danish, it wouldn’t have quite the same in built resilience – not to mention the struggle of sharing Jewish experiences with Jews who were not Danish. Because language is culture.
In my experience, it is rare that Jewish education has been considered in that lens. Rather, it is a product of what is available in that country. Your children will have Hebrew if Hebrew teachers are available, and the standard of Hebrew instruction will very much depend on the level of those teachers: Are they professionals or laypeople? Are they working with professionally developed curriculums or doing things off the cuff?
She’s daring or crazy you may say. Or perhaps you may think that I am pessimistic? My response: Realistic. Ask me if I stay up at night wondering about the survival of the Jewish people? Yes I do! It’s not enough to survive. We have to thrive. And Jewish identity has to be transferable wherever we go. For more see www.school.zehud.com