Is there an up­side to the Jewish “bub­ble” or are faith schools part of the prob­lem?

The Jewish Chronicle - - LIFE - The I read an ar­ti­cle in en­ti­tled

Last week

JC The Down­side of the Jewish School Bub­ble. Hav­ing at­tended Jewish schools since the age of six (I am now 16 and tak­ing GCSEs), I pro­foundly dis­agreed with it. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, be­ing at JCoSS has hugely strength­ened my sense of iden­tity. This has served to bet­ter equip me to stand up for my­self and ar­tic­u­late my views rather than be­ing afraid and ashamed, pre­cisely be­cause I have been nur­tured in an en­vi­ron­ment where I am safe to ex­press them. I have been taught to be se­cure in my iden­tity.

There are a num­ber of kids at my school who have anti-Is­rael opin­ions, as well as count­less other views with which I dis­agree. Just be­cause most of us are Jewish, it doesn’t mean that ev­ery­one thinks and feels the same. I re­sent the idea that we are never chal­lenged in our views, be­cause we ab­so­lutely are.

Teach­ing chil­dren to be proud of their her­itage, what­ever that may be, has to be bet­ter than put- ting them in an en­vi­ron­ment that teaches them to be ashamed. I think many op­po­nents of Jewish schools un­der­es­ti­mate our awareness of the non-Jewish world — we too live in mul­ti­cul­tural Bri­tain, and school is only one as­pect of our lives. Con­trary to the as­ser­tion made in the ar­ti­cle, I feel con­fi­dent in my abil­ity to op­er­ate out­side of the Jewish com­mu­nity, to recog­nise and chal­lenge an­ti­semitism, as well as other forms of racism, in­jus­tice and big­otry as my Jewish iden­tity teaches me to.

Dora Hirsh,

Lon­don, N3

I agree whole­heart­edly with Leah Pen­nisi-Glaser in her concerns about faith schools.

Lord Sacks and I were con­tem­po­raries at Christ’s Col­lege Finch­ley in the 1960s. Many oth­ers who went on to be­come lead­ers of the Jewish com­mu­nity also at­tended. Al­most half the boys were Jewish. But, around 10 years ago, my wife’s nephew was the only Jewish pupil in the sixth form.

I dis­cussed this with a col­league who is a de­vout Mus­lim. She at­tended Copthall, where she had many Jewish friends. She told me that, in her com­mu­nity too, there is con­sid­er­able pres­sure for chil­dren to be sent to faith schools. She also said that, de­spite liv­ing in a “Jewish” part of Hen­don, her chil­dren do not know any Jewish chil­dren. The only Jews they come across are the stereo­types they read about in the me­dia, or the ul­tra-Ortho­dox they see in the street.

Faith schools have many clear ad­van­tages. My daugh­ter sends her two older chil­dren to such. But this comes at a cost. It is also true that many par­ents choose such schools, not out of re­li­gious con­vic­tion but out of fear their chil­dren will be iso­lated in a hos­tile out­side world. But if our mul­ti­cul­tural so­ci­ety is fail­ing it is be­cause dif­fer­ent eth­nic and re­li­gious com­mu­ni­ties con­fine them­selves to self im­posed ghet­tos — a prob­lem only likely to be­come worse in “post Brexit” Bri­tain. Could it not be ar­gued that faith schools, for all their pos­i­tive as­pects, are part of the prob­lem, not the so­lu­tion?

An­thony Mel­nikoff,

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