Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Quote of the Day: Education and the Jews

 

“Remember for good the man Yehoshua ben Gamla, because were it not for him the Torah would have been forgotten from Israel. At first a child was taught by his father, and as a result orphans were left uneducated. It was then resolved that teachers of children should be appointed in Jerusalem, and a father [who lived outside the city] would bring his child there and have him taught, but the orphan was still left without tuition. Then it was resolved to appoint teachers in each district, and boy of the age of sixteen and seventeen were placed under them; but when the teacher was angry with a pupil, he would rebel and leave. Finally Yehoshua ben Gamla came and instituted that teachers be appointed in every province and every city, and children from the age of six or seven were placed under their charge.”
— From the Talmud, Bava Batra (Yehoshua ben Gamla lived in Jerusalem 1st century CE)

If you’re Jewish, the importance of education is emphasized from a very young age. Our history has taught us about the many benefits of education: maintaining a connection to G-d’s laws; having the tools to function in the greater society; developing a commitment to learning, discipline, and dedication to our roots; and devoting ourselves to the future of the Jewish community.

Other groups, particularly Asian folks, also treasure their education for many of the same reasons. And the commitment to pursuing a secular education is also a priority for Jews. In many ways, however, the commitment to Jewish education, per se, seems to be fading.

A book could be written about how many Jews have fallen away from being engaged in their religious education. Some of those reasons can be summarized here: diminishing interest in following Jewish law; loss of stature for religious education overall; engagement with other “gods,” whether materialistic, religious or political. For these Jews, Jewish education has taken a back seat.

It also points to the negative influences of outsiders to education overall. We only need to look at our own public schools to see the degradation, biases, misinformation and narrow agendas that are dominating our schools. In one sense, we could say that the declining involvement with religious education and Jewish education may be a growing indicator of the abandonment and distortion of the teaching of US history and values in public schools. Just as religion is suffering from the temptations of the modern world, so is the appreciation of this country’s humble beginnings.

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  1. Vectorman Thatcher

    Susan Quinn: Remember for good the man Yehoshua ben Gamla, because were it not for him the Torah would have been forgotten from Israel.

    And the world would be so much poorer. The Torah is the structure (the “bones”) that makes Western Civilization successful.


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    • #1
    • February 18, 2020, at 11:12 AM PST
    • 3 likes
  2. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    This is mostly true. I quibble with your unmodified use of the term “Jews.” It’s an infuriating mistake many people make when speaking about Jews, one I’m sure you’ve experienced. No, not all Jews–which is what is suggested by that lack of modifier–neglect Torah Jewish education. It’s a minority, but a non-insignificant number of Jews, at great expense and with many other than economic sacrifices, educate their children in Jewish day school and continue life-long education. Some–often labeled “parasites,” incidentally–continue the education at the equivalent of the post-graduate level. So, please, say “many Jews” or even “most Jews,” but please don’t make the error of using the same broad brush that would have all of us labeled hard lefties. Susan knows this, as do many here on Ricochet, but that Jewish minority who teach their children Torah are the most politically conservative sub-population in the country.

    • #2
    • February 18, 2020, at 1:11 PM PST
    • 7 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Caryn (View Comment):

    This is mostly true. I quibble with your unmodified use of the term “Jews.” It’s an infuriating mistake many people make when speaking about Jews, one I’m sure you’ve experienced. No, not all Jews–which is what is suggested by that lack of modifier–neglect Torah Jewish education. It’s a minority, but a non-insignificant number of Jews, at great expense and with many other than economic sacrifices, educate their children in Jewish day school and continue life-long education. Some–often labeled “parasites,” incidentally–continue the education at the equivalent of the post-graduate level. So, please, say “many Jews” or even “most Jews,” but please don’t make the error of using the same broad brush that would have all of us labeled hard lefties. Susan knows this, as do many here on Ricochet, but that Jewish minority who teach their children Torah are the most politically conservative sub-population in the country.

    Changed accordingly.

    • #3
    • February 18, 2020, at 1:18 PM PST
    • 4 likes
  4. Front Seat Cat Member

    Caryn – do you have any data to back up your counter to Susan’s post? I’m an outsider of course, but the same could be said for Christianity. I don’t have any data either, but just an observation of the newer generations seems to indicate the same – checking the box for no religious affiliation, not passing the faith onto their children, or maybe a watered-down version. I see the conservative side of Jews and Christians in public and private life, but it does seem the “progressive” wave does not include either – do you agree? I might also add that there is “learning” the faith, but apart from a heart-felt belief, memorizing tradition falls flat eventually…..

    • #4
    • February 18, 2020, at 2:16 PM PST
    • 1 like
  5. Ontheleftcoast Member

    Back in the late ’70s or early ’80s I met an Israeli woman whose parents stopped talking to her when she went to college. No, they weren’t “ultraorthodox.” They were old school hard Left kibbutzniks who believed in living on the land and felt that she was betraying the workers.

    • #5
    • February 18, 2020, at 2:20 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  6. Housebroken Thatcher

    Surely the importance of a right religious is throughout the Scriptures. Nevertheless, there is more: Isaiah gives the pronouncement of the Lord when he says, “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”

    The same principle is also found in the Psalms and in Ezekiel, I’m thinking also the Proverbs but can’t locate it. There are many that can talk the talk, but their heart is not toward the Creator.

     

    • #6
    • February 18, 2020, at 3:05 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  7. Front Seat Cat Member

    Someone lent me a copy of Smithsonian Magazine, maybe from 2018. It featured a Jewish mom, who was secular and decided to take her daughter to Poland to see the camps. Her young daughter was so impacted, and said she had no idea – she didn’t know! Can you imagine? The mom wanted to shield her daughter from these horrors, understandably. But the daughter had a different reaction. She wanted to know her history – all of it – the good and the bad. Is this an error – to shield children, the safe space mentality? The daughter wanted to see it all – what does that say?

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/unforgotten-holocaust-diary-special-section-180970537/

    To ignore history, we are doomed to repeat it. I am glad the daughter wanted to know.

     

    • #7
    • February 18, 2020, at 3:09 PM PST
    • 5 likes
  8. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):

    Surely the importance of a right religious is throughout the Scriptures. Nevertheless, there is more: Isaiah gives the pronouncement of the Lord when he says, “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”

    The same principle is also found in the Psalms and in Ezekiel, I’m thinking also the Proverbs but can’t locate it. There are many that can talk the talk, but their heart is not toward the Creator.

     

    I think many folks simply don’t know how to connect with G-d intimately. They don’t refuse to –they just don’t know how. 

    • #8
    • February 18, 2020, at 3:21 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Someone lent me a copy of Smithsonian Magazine, maybe from 2018. It featured a Jewish mom, who was secular and decided to take her daughter to Poland to see the camps. Her young daughter was so impacted, and said she had no idea – she didn’t know! Can you imagine? The mom wanted to shield her daughter from these horrors, understandably. But the daughter had a different reaction. She wanted to know her history – all of it – the good and the bad. Is this an error – to shield children, the safe space mentality? The daughter wanted to see it all – what does that say?

    https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/unforgotten-holocaust-diary-special-section-180970537/

    To ignore history, we are doomed to repeat it. I am glad the daughter wanted to know.

     

    Me too. But I think it should be shared gradually in an age appropriate way.

    • #9
    • February 18, 2020, at 3:23 PM PST
    • Like
  10. Manny Member

    I grew up in Brooklyn (and still live in NYC) and I went to public school with many Jewish kids, and I have to say they tended to be the smartest kids in the class. That said, I don’t know if that applied to kids who went to Jewish religious schools. In recent years there has been a controversy in New York over how good, or rather how poor, an education is being provided at what I guess are called Yeshivas. You can read it from the Liberal New York Times perspective and from the conservative New York Post perspective. I’ve seen it in other local newspapers as well, though sometimes newspapers just follow the leader.

    • #10
    • February 18, 2020, at 5:48 PM PST
    • 1 like
  11. Housebroken Thatcher

    Manny (View Comment):
    (and still live in NYC)

    Sorry.

    • #11
    • February 18, 2020, at 6:01 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Manny (View Comment):

    I grew up in Brooklyn (and still live in NYC) and I went to public school with many Jewish kids, and I have to say they tended to be the smartest kids in the class. That said, I don’t know if that applied to kids who went to Jewish religious schools. In recent years there has been a controversy in New York over how good, or rather how poor, an education is being provided at what I guess are called Yeshivas. You can read it from the Liberal New York Times perspective and from the conservative New York Post perspective. I’ve seen it in other local newspapers as well, though sometimes newspapers just follow the leader.

    I don’t know how widespread the problem is, but I’m sure there is an issue. Parents have to be engaged with the education of their kids, and I see no excuse for not preparing them for the real world. Thanks, @manny.

     

    • #12
    • February 18, 2020, at 6:17 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  13. Manny Member

    Slow on the uptake (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):
    (and still live in NYC)

    Sorry.

    LOL, I know. One of these days…

    • #13
    • February 18, 2020, at 7:02 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  14. Manny Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    I grew up in Brooklyn (and still live in NYC) and I went to public school with many Jewish kids, and I have to say they tended to be the smartest kids in the class. That said, I don’t know if that applied to kids who went to Jewish religious schools. In recent years there has been a controversy in New York over how good, or rather how poor, an education is being provided at what I guess are called Yeshivas. You can read it from the Liberal New York Times perspective and from the conservative New York Post perspective. I’ve seen it in other local newspapers as well, though sometimes newspapers just follow the leader.

    I don’t know how widespread the problem is, but I’m sure there is an issue. Parents have to be engaged with the education of their kids, and I see no excuse for not preparing them for the real world. Thanks, @manny.

     

    Yeah, I can’t speak to the problem, but it has been in the news here.

    • #14
    • February 18, 2020, at 7:03 PM PST
    • 1 like
  15. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Caryn – do you have any data to back up your counter to Susan’s post? I’m an outsider of course, but the same could be said for Christianity. I don’t have any data either, but just an observation of the newer generations seems to indicate the same – checking the box for no religious affiliation, not passing the faith onto their children, or maybe a watered-down version. I see the conservative side of Jews and Christians in public and private life, but it does seem the “progressive” wave does not include either – do you agree? I might also add that there is “learning” the faith, but apart from a heart-felt belief, memorizing tradition falls flat eventually…..

    Hi FSC, I’m not sure which data you’re asking for. My objection was to Susan’s use of “Jews” rather than “most Jews,” because the Torah Observant subset of Jews (aka “Orthodox,” usually measured at about 10%) are still very oriented to teaching the un-watered, ancient faith to their children. This is not memorizing of tradition, but actual in-depth learning of Torah and all of the supporting writings. That’s why they’re the one group in the overall Jewish population that is growing, or at least not shrinking. Large birthrate helps, too. Here’s an article (liberal journal) talking about trends.

    Unfortunately, the “progressive” wave is heavily populated and led by Jews, at least those born Jewish. Gives the rest of us a bad name! Hence my objection to the broad brush. These “Jews” generally practice nothing of the actual religion, having replaced it with progressivism. Or worse. Exhibit A (yet by no means the worst): Bernie Sanders. 

    • #15
    • February 18, 2020, at 11:40 PM PST
    • 1 like
  16. Caryn Thatcher
    Caryn Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    I grew up in Brooklyn (and still live in NYC) and I went to public school with many Jewish kids, and I have to say they tended to be the smartest kids in the class. That said, I don’t know if that applied to kids who went to Jewish religious schools. In recent years there has been a controversy in New York over how good, or rather how poor, an education is being provided at what I guess are called Yeshivas. You can read it from the Liberal New York Times perspective and from the conservative New York Post perspective. I’ve seen it in other local newspapers as well, though sometimes newspapers just follow the leader.

    I don’t know how widespread the problem is, but I’m sure there is an issue. Parents have to be engaged with the education of their kids, and I see no excuse for not preparing them for the real world. Thanks, @manny.

     

    All depends on how you define the “real world.” I do think it’s problematic for boys (and it’s generally a male education problem and really only in the most insular communities) to finish high school without basic literacy and numeracy. It’s also important for them to have a means of making a living, even a modest one. It’s also a very bad thing for the government to meddle in religious schools. There is a BIG problem of this very thing going on in Britain.

    • #16
    • February 18, 2020, at 11:49 PM PST
    • 2 likes
  17. Henry Castaigne Member

    Caryn (View Comment):

    Front Seat Cat (View Comment):

    Caryn – do you have any data to back up your counter to Susan’s post? I’m an outsider of course, but the same could be said for Christianity. I don’t have any data either, but just an observation of the newer generations seems to indicate the same – checking the box for no religious affiliation, not passing the faith onto their children, or maybe a watered-down version. I see the conservative side of Jews and Christians in public and private life, but it does seem the “progressive” wave does not include either – do you agree? I might also add that there is “learning” the faith, but apart from a heart-felt belief, memorizing tradition falls flat eventually…..

    Hi FSC, I’m not sure which data you’re asking for. My objection was to Susan’s use of “Jews” rather than “most Jews,” because the Torah Observant subset of Jews (aka “Orthodox,” usually measured at about 10%) are still very oriented to teaching the un-watered, ancient faith to their children. This is not memorizing of tradition, but actual in-depth learning of Torah and all of the supporting writings. That’s why they’re the one group in the overall Jewish population that is growing, or at least not shrinking. Large birthrate helps, too. Here’s an article (liberal journal) talking about trends.

    Unfortunately, the “progressive” wave is heavily populated and led by Jews, at least those born Jewish. Gives the rest of us a bad name! Hence my objection to the broad brush. These “Jews” generally practice nothing of the actual religion, having replaced it with progressivism. Or worse. Exhibit A (yet by no means the worst): Bernie Sanders.

    I am happy that religious Jews are breeding. However, some Jews have a tendency towards neuroticism as has been documented by geneticist. I think these neurotic Jews should marry outside the Jewish faith under the condition that their spouses convert to the faith or that their children will be raised Jewish. 

    The tradition that only Jewish woman can marry non-Jews and still be an Orthodox Jew is a Roman tradition and it has only been going for 2,000 years. By Jewish standards, it’s a new thing.

    • #17
    • February 19, 2020, at 8:26 PM PST
    • Like
  18. Manny Member

    Henry Castaigne (View Comment):
    However, some Jews have a tendency towards neuroticism as has been documented by geneticist.

    Certainly brings to mind Woody Allen but documented by geneticist? What? Where? You’re going to have to prove that to me to take it credibly.

    • #18
    • February 20, 2020, at 10:20 AM PST
    • 2 likes