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AJC Policy Statement on Jewish Education

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Publication Date: December 1999

Publisher(s): American Jewish Committee

Author(s): American Jewish Committee. Board of Governors

Special Collection: Berman Jewish Policy Archive

Topic: Culture and religion (Cultural heritage and preservation)
Education (Education)
Education (Schools)

Keywords: Day and Supplementary Schools; Jewish Identification; Jewish Education; Jewish Continuity

Type: Brief

Coverage: United States

Abstract:

The mission of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) includes safeguarding the continuity and ensuring the future quality of Jewish life. The AJC has long recognized the centrality of Jewish education to efforts to ensure Jewish continuity. Jewish teaching underscores the principle that to be a Jew connotes life-time encounter with Jewish heritage, ideally from cradle unto grave. Regrettably, however, for too many American Jews, Jewish learning has been reduced to its most elementary levels--often culminating and even ceasing with the bar or bat mitzvah rite of passage. As presently constituted, Jewish education suffers from paucity of contact hours and from low expectations of output. Moreover, the classroom time usually devoted to Jewish education generally omits the critical years of adolescence, which AJC research has demonstrated are the most crucial years for impacting upon long-term Jewish identity. This document presents recommendations from the AJC board of governors on educational programming that it sees as essential to strengthening Jewish identity.