Day School Teaches Virtue and Ethics Rooted in Judaism
I often hear parents try to explain why they chose our school, saying “The sense of community” is what attracted them and remains what they love about the school. They also say the school helps to raise “mensches” – good people. Those are difficult attributes to define. What do they mean? And how can a day school education ensure that the sense of community is sustained and even strengthened when our children leave the day school setting?
I believe the key is in not just teaching Jewish values but in teaching the roots of Jewish values. One example is Tzedakah, which is often defined as “charity,” but it is more. Tzedakah actually means righteousness, fairness or justice. In Judaism, giving to the poor is an act of justice. Judaism is rooted in scholarship and prayer, tzedakah, and “tikkun olam” repairing the world. By attend
ing a Jewish day school, these values are ingrained in my children’s daily lives. Through prayer, they learn self-reflection and mindfulness. Through study, they learn critical thinking and scholarship. Through tzedakah, they learn to be virtuous; through tikkun olam, they learn how to be meaningful contributors to society.
In Hebrew school I learned to give Tzedakah.
At Day School, my children learn why we give Tzedakah.
Day school can effectively integrate these values-based educational goals into today’s best practices for teaching traditional academic subjects of math, science, reading, writing, as well as music, art, and drama.
Stephanie Rubel is the owner of Fifth Gear Research, a public health evaluation consulting firm. She lives with her husband and their three children in Atlanta, Georgia.