THE NORTH AMERICAN EXAMPLE SHOWS FAITH SCHOOLS ARE GOOD
I have been following with interest the discussion regarding Jewish schools ( Letters, September 12).
For the Toronto community — cosmopolitan and pluralistic, with a majority of Conservative and Reform Jews — the Jewish school system is the backbone of our community, supported across the board. Choices include North America’s largest Reform Jewish day school and Conservative, Arts-based, Montessori, Labour-Zionist, Traditional, Orthodox and Yeshivah schools. Some 80 per cent of all students graduating our elementary schools continue on to our community high school, the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (CHAT).
But our students are not — despite the fears of some of your correspondents — isolated from wider society, nor is “the Jewish voice” absent from other local schools. Our students contribute more than 30,000 hours of volunteer work per year to local Jewish and non-Jewish social service agencies. Our students helped rebuild New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina; they play in local non-Jewish sports leagues; there are interfaith and inter-community initiatives; they are major supporters of a range of charities, Jewish and non-Jewish.
A recent survey of our graduates (stretching back over 45 years) showed that the overwhelming ma- jority are comfortable socially, professionally and culturally in wider society. Their Jewish school background makes them more secure, not less.
Even with Jewish community concerns aside, you cannot have multiculturalism without cultures; and you cannot have deep and reflective cultures without credible cultural education. Our experience shows this conclusively — as does the experience of every other diaspora community. It is puzzling to see the UK Jewish community in a frenzy of retrograde discussion. Paul Shaviv Director of Education, TanenbaumCHAT, Toronto, Canada Please note that individual letters cannot be acknowledged. Letters may be edited. The email address for correspondence is: email@example.com. All correspondents are requested to supply their postal address, even when writing by email.