I usually don’t respond to the letters and comments that greet my column in the Jerusalem Post, but I found the following, in response to last week’s article about my day school ambivalence, interesting:
Sir, – I read “The heart, and head, of the matter” (April 16) with increasing surprise. Surely it’s the heart that would say (loudly) to parents that they want a Jewish education for their children, rather than such an important decision being dictated by the head?
Andrew Silow-Carroll gave as his main reason for Jewish education “the fluency in Jewish learning‚” and “Jewish literacy.” These are important aspects, but not nearly as important as Jewish identity and knowledge of the history of the Jewish people and its Jewish practices, which have led to our position as Jews in today’s world.
If Mr. Silow-Carroll had reversed his head and heart, this column might have come nearer to many other Jews’ philosophy.
Why would anyone presume to argue with what’s in MY head and heart, or presume to say what should be? In my “heart” I have a strong Jewish identity, which was forged in my mother’s kitchen, in the embrace of a circle of Jewish (public school) friends, in my extracurricular reading of history and literature, in a life-changing trip to Israel in 1983, and in my decision to combine my spiritual and professional lives. Day school had nothing to do with it.
But I made the rational decision – or, at least, arrived rationally at the irrationally expensive decision — that my path was serendipitous, and that if I wanted Jewish grandchildren, I needed to “fortify” my kids with a more intensely Jewish upbringing and education than I had. Strong Jewish identities do not depend on day school or yeshiva, but I did a cost-benefit analysis, and decided that we had a better chance in this age if our kids went the day-school route. That’s using my head.
I also don’t know what it could possibly mean to “come nearer to many other Jews’ philosophy.” Pick a Jewish philosophy, any Jewish philosophy – and I’ll find you a thriving Jewish community that disagrees with it.