The Jewish Chronicle - - COMMENT -

I nor­mally de­rive a fair de­gree of read­ing plea­sure from David Aaronovitch. I was there­fore quite taken aback by his re­cent con­tri­bu­tion ( JC, Nov 19) con­cern­ing the Joseph fam­ily, whose son has failed to gain a place at a sec­ondary Jewish school. It came across as a rather in­sen­si­tive di­a­tribe and ap­peared to make a mock­ery not only of the Josephs’ plight, but the or­deal that a con­sid­er­able num­ber of other fam­i­lies have had to en­dure over the past few months. Yes, the Josephs have waived their right to pri­vacy by go­ing pub­lic with their own ex­pe­ri­ence — not only for them­selves but for other fam­i­lies in the same sit­u­a­tion, who for what­ever rea­son have cho­sen to keep their ex­pe­ri­ences pri­vate. But this doesn’t give Aaronovitch carte blanche to launch in to what some would con­sider Lashon Hara.

I can­not help but feel that Aaronovitch per­ceives Dy­lan’s predica­ment and the Jewish sec­ondary school is­sue through a very nar­row aper­ture, and does not con­cern him­self with the big­ger and more com­plex pic­ture that the Josephs, and many other fam­i­lies have had to deal with. Dy­lan has been on the wait­ing list for a couple of sec­u­lar schools as well as Yavneh, JFS and JCoSS, so to im­ply a pref­er­ence to home-school­ing in such an ir­re­spon­si­ble man­ner is an af­front to the fam­ily. Fur­ther­more, link­ing the goy-word to the Josephs could have a neg­a­tive im­pact on any inter-faith so­cial and pro­fes­sional cir­cles the fam­ily main­tain. And to clar­ify an er­ror in the orig­i­nal in­ter­view, which was re­peated by Aaronovitch: Dy­lan was not of­fered a place in his lo­cal sec­ondary school, but the fur­ther lo­cated Westfield Acad­emy.

When I launched it in March, my Over­sub­scribed Jewish Sec­ondary Schools group on Face­book ini­tially rep­re­sented close to 50 fam­i­lies who were caught up in the cri­sis. Each fam­ily had their own unique back­ground, but all wanted a Jewish ed­u­ca­tion for their chil­dren. In this world of ever-in­creas­ing an­i­mos­ity to­wards Is­rael and the Jewish pop­u­la­tion world­wide, why would we not want to for­tify our chil­dren with as much Jewish ed­u­ca­tion, knowl­edge and her­itage as we pos­si­bly can?

In this fast-chang­ing world, if we want to keep the Jewish com­mu­nity alive, vi­brant, and in a true po­si­tion of lead­er­ship, we need to nur­ture our chil­dren even more so than ever be­fore. What was good for us 20-30 years ago is barely suf­fi­cient to­day if we want our com­mu­nity in Bri­tain to thrive. Jewish ed­u­ca­tion is no longer a lux­ury. It is a much-needed ne­ces­sity for our sur­vival in the di­as­pora, so de­fend the sys­tem we must. Gilead Li­mor, Over­sub­scribed Jewish Sec­ondary Schools Ac­tion Group, Lon­don

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