The latest toy or technological gizmo is often what kids covet this time of year. Yes – such gifts are exciting for our children – but how long do they last? And what benefits do our children actually get from them?
Jewish day school education is a gift that many in our community have chosen to give their children. Our community’s 13 schools provide over 2,700 of the Greater Boston area’s children the foundation for solid Jewish identity, lifelong friendships, and innovative learning opportunities that shape who they are and how they function in society for the rest of their lives … now that’s a gift that keeps on giving!
I view my own Solomon Schechter day school education (received in another state) as one of the best gifts that my parents ever gave me. At a young age I was given many tools whose importance I did not fully appreciate until adulthood. I was given the tools of Hebrew language, critical thinking, pride in my heritage, joy of learning, and connection to a community bigger than myself. I was given the gift of teachers who were extended family – sharing in joys, triumphs and challenges. These tools and connections centered me in the broader world when I attended public high school and the University of Pennsylvania, and later while obtaining my law degree at Boston College Law School.
As I have transitioned from student to professional to parent and community member, I recognize my day school education also gave me a common language to connect with so many other day school grads from across our country. These shared “parallel” experiences of the joyful childhood memories of day school — as well as shared values and ethical sensibilities — have led to some of the most meaningful friendships and connections in my adult life.
The many tangible and intangible impacts of my parents’ gift to me have continued until today. My wonderful husband who did not have the benefit of a day school education often marvels at my second nature-knowledge about Jewish history and tradition. He feels that he has benefited from the gift my parents gave me and my siblings way back in the seventies, because as a result we have chosen to give our three children the same gift. He is enjoying learning with them, and joining other day school parents in a community who share in life’s challenges and joys and who together are raising Jewishly connected, knowledgeable and ethical human beings. My husband has often said that when Hillary Clinton, years ago, coined the phrase “it takes a village” – she must have been talking about the wonders of a Jewish day school community!
In the coming days of Chanukah, guest bloggers will share their personal views on day school education as part of our special series on “A Gift that Lasts a Lifetime”. Of all years, this may the one to consider one of the day schools in Greater Boston for your entering kindergartner. You may be eligible for CJP’s Discover Day School kindergarten tuition incentive program – check out www.DiscoverDaySchool.org to see if you qualify!