Hold back your applause for Jewish education; there are too many gaps in it (“Creativity, hands-on learning allows Jewish education to thrive at local Hebrew schools,” Sept. 12, Jewish Journal). Hebrew schools give our children a basic education in Judaism, but that is not enough. The character of American Jews of the twenty-first century was formed by epic events of the last 200 years of Jewish history. Jewish enlightenment, Zionism, mass emigration from Europe, the rebirth of Israel, these are the composites of American Jewry; but Jewish children know little about them. The exception to this educational void is the Holocaust. This ultimate evil is taught in both public and Hebrew schools, but missing is the history before and after the Holocaust.
Two major goals of Jewish parents are to strengthen their children’s bonds to Judaism and Israel. Both will be served by the teaching of modern Jewish history. Our history will instill pride in what Jews have accomplished in the last two centuries. Education about the people and events that led to a reborn Israel is fundamental if our children are going to understand that Israel is the fulfillment of a centuries-old dream that has meaning for them as Jews. Teach our children modern Jewish history and I will join in the applause.
Herbert Belkin, Swampscott