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Dec 10 2013

The All-Consuming Day School Decision

By at 11:50 am

mom choosing a jewish day school

I felt positively Goldilocks-like as I made the rounds at open houses of prospective Jewish day schools for my 4-year-old son.

“This school is too big,” I said as I surveyed the hordes of parents spilling out of the auditorium.

“This school is too small,” I frowned at the empty seats and scant class size.

“This school is too rich,” I sighed as I took note of Gucci handbags and snippets of conversations concerning travel plans for St. Maarten.

Somehow, despite my best efforts to the contrary, I have become unwillingly embroiled in the massive wave of hysteria that sweeps the parents in my community when faced with the big day school decision. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 14 2013

Should I Feel Guilty About My Kids’ Financial Aid?

By at 12:07 pm

scholarship application

Whatever my kids do, be it school or extracurricular activities, they are either on financial aid, a merit scholarship, or work/study (i.e. they study while I work for the organizations in question).

We simply wouldn’t be able to afford Jewish Day School or after school classes any other way.

The rule of thumb, as I understand it, is that you’re not supposed to tell kids that they’re on financial aid. You don’t want them to feel different.

I want them to feel different. I want them to understand and appreciate that the privileges they have are thanks to some very generous people contributing more than their own fair share, so that my kids can enjoy the same advantages as theirs. Read the rest of this entry →

Aug 28 2013

Jewish Day School: My Kids Will Be Fine, But What About Me?

By at 2:00 pm

yarmulke with jewish starLater this week, both of my children will begin a new school year at a local Jewish Day School.

At the moment, we are in the whirlwind of the preschool year excitement–picking out new backpacks and shoes, finding out class assignments, and registering for after-school clubs. These are all activities that I recall with fondness from my childhood (who else remembers how exciting it was to get that new Cabbage Patch Kids plastic lunchbox and matching thermos–do they even make those anymore?). Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 30 2013

Some Parents Don’t Need Jewish Day School, But I’m Not One of Them

By at 9:55 am

hebrew letters on notebookI read Jordana Horn’s piece in the Jewish Daily Forward about “Jewish Homeschooling” as an alternative to Jewish Day School with great interest. In it, Jordana states, “I’m not against day school, per se. I just don’t think that day school is essential in order to raise children who are Jewish and proud to be Jewish.”

Of course she’s right. Committed parents don’t need day school to make Judaism a joyful and central part of family life, as Jordana suggests in her piece. She also briefly acknowledges that parents who don’t feel Jewishly educated enough can avail themselves of books, online resources, and synagogue communities.

This is where things get a little tricky for me.  Read the rest of this entry →

May 14 2013

My Daughter is Learning About God in School

By at 11:51 am

god blocksThis post is part of our month-long series featuring different ways that parents of various religions have talked to their kids about God.

When our daughter, Hot Shot, was 4, we followed the advice of the Gospel according to Anne Lamott and sent her to a Jewish day school for kindergarten. See, Anne Lamott says, if you’re going to be an atheist, then fine, so be it, but don’t take it out on your kids. Give them spiritual mentors, she tells us. Allow them the opportunity of faith!

We figured we better listen, because, you know, what did we have to offer our little girl but an ambivalent pragmatist and an atheist Jew? Anne Lamott was raised by pragmatic atheists and she became a Born Again. We couldn’t have that!  Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 13 2013

For My Son on the Autistic Spectrum, Where Does He Fit into the Jewish Community?

By at 9:45 am
jewish day school

Jewish day school. Photo credit: Clive Moss

As part of our month-long series dedicated to Jewish Disability Awareness Month, Benay shares her hopes and concerns about her son’s future Jewish education.

I watch my 5-year-old at Jr. Congregation on Shabbat, and I am amazed. Here, in a small room with children, songs, and a teacher he knows and loves, he is comfortable and in his element. He participates, and more than that, he wants to be a leader, a teacher, and a student. He runs onto the bimah in the sanctuary for Adon Olam, and he thinks he’s leading the congregation.

Witnessing my son’s emphatic participation is huge. He was first diagnosed as being on the autistic spectrum at 2 years old. Thanks to my husband and sisters, who insisted he be evaluated on the early side, he has benefited from four years of intensive therapy with dedicated and talented therapists and teachers and has made astounding strides. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 15 2012

My Son is (Finally) Learning Hebrew

By at 5:03 pm

I have to admit to feeling a rush of pride and satisfaction each time I hear my son call me Ima. And, for a gal who grew up begrudgingly bilingual, that’s a pretty big deal.

My first languages as a young child were English and Hebrew. With an Israeli father (and grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, cousins… you get the picture) and a mother who spent a chunk of her young adulthood in Israel, it should come as no big surprise that we were a bilingual house. My first words were “mom” and “aba.” I listened equally to Rafi and Tzippi Shavit, and my eyes were glued to both Sesame Street and Rehov Sumsum (and yes, I even had my own pair of brown, checkered slippers like Kippi).

But for some reason, instead of embracing this language gift I had been given, at some point in my childhood, I started to actively be embarrassed by it. Read the rest of this entry →

A Cheap Person’s Guiltiest Secrets

By at 3:01 pm
first day of school

First day of school!

In August, I confessed to being cheap, and wondered if it was messing up my kids.

I followed that up in October with Five Easy Ways to Save Money for Your Family.

But, now comes the deepest darkest confession that an out and proud cheap person like me can make. I am going to talk about the things that I actually will–unashamedly–spend money on:

Item #1: Hebrew School/Jewish Day School Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 26 2012

Kveller Hits of the Week: October 22-26

By at 3:31 pm

This week’s most popular posts, in case you missed them.

– Making A Fabulous Birthday Party With Just One Hand. Mayim Bialik only has one hand to run her family these days, so she couldn’t handle baking a birthday cake from scratch. Her improvised solution? An ice cream sundae bar, complete with a 1950s soda jerk costume.

– Why We Chose A Jewish Day School Over Public School. Avital and her husband put off making a decision about their children’s schooling for as long as they could. Between public school, montessori school, and Jewish day school, they had several good options, and while Avital was leaning toward the Jewish school, her husband wasn’t leaning with her. Read about how and why they ended up at a Solomon Schechter day school.

– Can We Afford Jewish High School? One family that has been sending their kids to day school through middle school now has to make a decision about high school. With a double curriculum and a massive price tag, the choice isn’t going to be easy.

Shopping For My Daughter’s First Bra. Have you ever said a blessing in a department store dressing room? This mom (and rabbi) took her daughter bra shopping, and celebrated the beginning of womanhood with the shehecheyanu prayer.

Oct 25 2012

Why We Chose a Jewish Day School Over Public School

By at 9:47 am

I can still remember being 5 years old, sitting in the hallway outside my kindergarten classroom, while my buddy–an eighth grader–taught me the Ma Nishtana, the four questions for the Passover seder. Eight years later, and it was my turn to help a new kindergartner learn the tune and words to the same questions.

I’m a Schechter gal, through and through. From kindergarten through eighth grade, I attended Ezra Academy, a Solomon Schechter Jewish day school in the suburbs of New Haven, CT. Not only did I attend the school, but my mother was there long before I started, teaching a variety of grade levels before settling into her current position as the school’s computer instructor. The Jewish day school experience was an integral part of my childhood, and one that I truly look back upon fondly. Read the rest of this entry →

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