In a development that has Jewish educators looking inward, more than half of all fourth-graders in New York City area Jewish schools failed to meet state standards for reading and writing, according to statistics on private schools released last week.The passing rate of 48.6 percent for Jewish schools was slightly higher than the 41 percent for Catholic schools.
With Jewish day schools reeling from a statewide test revealing that more than half of their fourth-graders failed to meet state reading standards, Jewish schools are now being confronted by a new test ó but only for principals and with only one question:Will the strategy be to improve academically, or to simply exclude those students who might drag down the scores?That question was posed by Rabbi Martin Schloss, director of school services for the Board of Jewish Education of Greater New York.ìMy great fear is that some of schools that didnít do well will become overly
An ethereal chasidic melody is sung in a small room by a minyan waiting for evening prayer. Yakov B., having led the afternoon prayer as mourners will, and having said the final Kaddish of his mournful year, now sits in a pew, closing his eyes. On waves of the wordless tune, his soul slips from earthly mooring; he has an inner vision: He is at a family simcha, the end of something. His father, for whom Yakov was saying Kaddish, looked young, beatific, in the middle of a circle dance.
An urban legend going around the community says that a major rabbi placed a curse upon the Kennedy family, unto the end of generations, because Ambassador Joseph Kennedy was not a hard-liner about Hitler. Kennedyís son died fighting Hitler, but no matter: the curse was on. To many Jews, this eternal curse makes perfect sense.Other Jews refuse to say a kind word about Franklin Delano Roosevelt for his mishandling of the Holocaust. He led the war against Hitler?
The existential problems of synagogue worship, let alone the more terrestrial problems of religious illiteracy, alienation, displeasure with sermons, and annoyance with cantors, has basically been solved by American Jews: 89 percent simply stay away.But on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur there is no avoiding the culture clash: Nearly 60 percent of American Jewry jam into pews across the land, an influx of nearly three million Jews who would otherwise be gone.
Philip Roth, in the 1950s, wrote a story about Ozzie, a Jewish kid who knew, just knew, that if God could make the heaven and the earth in six days, God could do anything. Ozzie would say, ìthe light especially, thatís what always gets me, that he could make the light. ... Making fish and animals, thatís pretty good ó but making light ... and He could pick the six days he wanted right out of nowhere.îThat sense of wonder is one of the gifts of Jewish childhood.