by Adam Tilove
While everyone is talking about the Middle Class affordability crisis in day schools, there is one essential stakeholder in the community that seems to be forgotten: The Jewish Studies teacher. Jewish day school teachers have a shockingly high rate of leaving the field early in their careers. (Note: I am not a researcher. This conclusion is based on my observations and anecdotal information from many friends and colleagues in the field.) This is a deeply troubling trend because Jewish day schools depend on these teachers to put the Jewish in “Jewish day school.”
Consider the skills of a Jewish Studies teacher: they know modern and ancient Hebrew, and often Aramaic; they are able to read and explain ancient texts, exciting students who may be indifferent or even hostile; they must have skills in classroom management, planning assemblies and events, and leading Tefillah (Jewish Prayer). They must love kids, live passionate Jewish lives, and be dedicated to their craft. And to be truly effective, they need experience.