We welcome ideas, evidence and opinions to enrich the community conversation about our Jewish education. All comments will be moderated, and disrespectful posts will not be published. The Jewish Education Foundation also reserves the right not to publish comments that identify particular schools or individuals.
Your Username will automatically display when you make a comment.
Thanks so much Simon, your feedback is greatly appreciated. Online learning is a is an important topic we do need to take into account and we will do so in our future discussions.
An extra note: Can consider building a ‘high rise’ school to utilise land space
(like university campuses)
Thanks for your idea. This is something we have considered as one of the options and will hopefully be discussed further.
Alan and the Working Group members, congratulations for this much needed initiative. I sincerely hope there are fruitful outcomes.
Thanks so much Mark we appreciate your support and value your opinion.
Parents must WANT their children to go to Jewish schools – for many, this is becoming less important – important to understand why this is so.
Current costs of Jewish education is prohibitive.
Thanks so much for sharing – this an interesting question for our community.
Great project, and great opportunity for our entire community (individuals, institutions, interest groups) to weigh in on the conversation! I look forward to seeing comments which will feed into the second paper.
It will be imperative to ensure that current UJEB and non UJEB kids in public schools are represented too. Naturally, this includes those that are outside of the conventional “Jewish Suburbs”.
Thanks Howie for your comments. We definitely want our whole community to be represented.
My comments below refer primarily to Option Three in the discussion paper which is the establishment of a new VCE co-educational school.
On page 5 the discussion paper states, “However, our modelling raises serious concerns about the viability of the current Jewish education system”. – This begs the question. – Is there a Jewish education system? There isn’t one that for example is equivalent to the Catholic education system and there cannot be for various reasons, some of which I touch on below. Your paper also discusses the concept of schools providing a “Jewish Education”. I’m not sure what the definition of a Jewish education is in this context. My observation and experience is that each of the four potential participating schools are providing secular education in combination with their individual concept of Jewish education. Each has is a very different focus, orientation, level of time commitment and inter-relationship with the secular curriculum.
Our community is small and religious affiliation and practice is diverse. There are four schools mentioned that are participating, one Progressive (UPJ/Reform) school, one cross communal/unaffiliated school (which does not conduct formal religious education), one Modern Orthodox school and one school associated with the Religious Zionist movement. The community also has schools associated with other Jewish movements and branches of Torah Judaism including Adass and Yeshivah/Beth Rivkah that are not part of this proposal.
This proposal would see the two Orthodox schools participate in a joint VCE school campus with the involvement and influence of a UPJ/Reform Jewish school. It is my understanding that the Rabbinic council of Victoria and Orthodox authorities around the world do not recognise the UPJ as a branch of Judaism so by more than mere inference it would not recognise a UPJ/Reform institution as a Jewish school providing a Jewish education. It does not accept it’s prayer rite or accompanying texts or it’s religious authority. How will this matter be approached?
These are not new settings and reflect the modern historical diversity of Judaism. Jewish communities have for hundreds of years maintained synagogues, schools and institutions with different affiliations. There is one Torah but in culture and practice the notion of a single Judaism is now somewhat apocryphal.
Putting aside the aforementioned Jewish schools that are not involved, what appears to be envisaged is a fifth Jewish school with the four participating schools acting as feeder schools for this new VCE campus. I imagine that this seperate campus will require it’s own government accreditation and registration to deliver VCE and VCAL courses as it would be unwieldy if not impossible to deliver blended classes under the four separate school VCAA accreditations. I would also assume that the governance structure of the new VCE campus would need to include representatives of the four feeder schools.
It seems optimistic that over ensuing decades it could maintain different streams and a mixed pedagogy being controlled and influenced by the four parent feeder schools.
A few questions in relation to this. What will occur if after a period of years one of the four feeder schools backs out of the arrangement to return to delivering their own VCE program? How are the four schools going to be bound to deliver their students to the new VCE campus and maintain it’s economic viability? Is enrolment in the new VCE campus to be available to students who are not from one of the four feeder schools?
I imagine it might be impractical if not impossible for a campus to run under four sets of rules and policies. Because this new VCE campus will need to cater to all four existing school communities wouldn’t Halachic matters almost by necessity need to defer to the strictest settings of the four schools? If not, then campus operation may not be acceptable to some of the students and their families. Conversely Reform or secular Jewish students and families may not want to be subject to strict Orthodox rules and practice. I refer here in part to observance of both kashrut and holidays, dress codes, prayer and various minhagim. Similarly in respect to policy relating to forms of communication, gender issues, LGBTQI issues, and freedom to observe or not observe religious practices.
These religious and cultural differences are quite significant, as are approaches to Zionism. To some extent our community thrives on the existence different religious, cultural, political and educational institutions that give a home and voice to these differences and views on Jewish identity. For many people these issues are less significant, for many they are profound.
Establishing a new large VCE campus might be the opposite of what many parents will be looking for in a Jewish school. It is the smaller scale that makes schools like KDS, Leibler-Yavneh and Bialik attractive to many families. The VCE cohorts in the envisaged new VCE campus would number around 300 – 400 students in each year level, quite a different proposition. It is possible that schools like St Michaels, Shelford, Lauriston and for some families Yeshivah/Beth Rivkah might be the beneficiaries of a possible exodus of students seeking a more intimately scaled environment which could lead to a decline in enrolments from earlier year levels in the feeder schools.
There is probably no shortage of potential financial resources in Australia or indeed in the Jewish community. What appears to exist are allocation issues in relation to those potential resources relating to education and your paper is a starting point to a process that rightly seeks to address that issue. Nevertheless we need to be cautious when approaching education and indeed Judaism on pragmatic grounds and whilst conceptually interesting the joint VCE campus is not certain to provide the educational quality and results that are currently being achieved via the four individual schools.
I will follow the progress of the project with interest.
Thank you for your well thought out comments. You have raised some excellent points and have provided very useful feedback for the working group to carefully consider.