IT’S AARONOVITCH WHOSE VIEW ON SCHOOL OVERSUBSCRIPTION IS NARROW
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