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Aug 28 2013

Will My Son Be the Only Black Jew in High School?

By at 10:59 am

alina adams will my son be the only black jew in high schoolEvery year, just like clockwork, The New York Times writes their annual article expressing shock that the most competitive public high schools in New York City are primarily Asian, with a much lower proportion of black and Hispanic students then there are in the overall system.

They charge that the test is racist and should not be used as the sole criteria determining admittance into a New York City Specialized High School. (I am not going to get into the politics of that charge, except to note that the argument to use other, less standardized factors such as letters of recommendation and extracurricular activities was initially introduced in America specifically to keep Jews out of elite universities, for fear that there would otherwise be too many of them. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 24 2013

I Cheated My Sons Out of a Jewish Education

By at 5:04 pm

empty classroomMy oldest son graduated from the 8th grade last week. His father and I picked this particular school for its academic rigor. By the time his nine years there were up, my son had visited England, passed Algebra 2, read Virgil (in Latin), played Katherine in a full staging of Shakespeare’s Henry V, and drawn a map of Europe freehand, including mountain ranges and bodies of water, with only the latitude and longitude as guidelines.

We were ecstatic about his education and how well it prepared him for the future.

Though the school is ostensibly non-denominational, their crest does feature a cross. When my son inquired about it, he was informed that the cross represents all religions. (He thus proceeded to refer to it as The Cross of All Religions for the past several years. It was funny the first time. Not so much the 74th.) Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 19 2013

My Third Grader Had a Terrible Year (And I Didn’t Do Anything About It)

By at 9:44 am

elementary school kids in dunce cap vintage“Where has the time gone?” my fellow third grade moms trill as end of school looms. “This year has just gone by so fast!”

Not for me. For me, my middle child’s third grade year has dragged by in excruciating increments until I was telling people I was just hoping to hang on and ride it out–like labor.

My son was miserable in third grade. And he generously decided to pass that misery onto me.

It all started when none of his friends from previous years were placed in his particular class. I agreed with him: tough break. But, he could still see them at recess and after school and, well, life is full of tough breaks, so how about we suck it up and soldier on? Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 19 2013

On My Mother’s Refusal to Label Me Special Needs

By at 10:11 am

adam w. 13-year-oldLast week, we published a blog post by Alina Adams entitled “Why I Wouldn’t Let My Son Be Labeled Special Needs.” The post, which explained why Alina declined to sign Adam up for special benefits at school that he qualified for due to an Auditory Processing Disorder, sparked a lively debate on Kveller. Many readers were interested to hear her son’s point of view on the matter, so here is a letter from 13-year-old Adam himself.

Hello Kveller readers,

I, Adam, will now offer my own opinion on my mother’s most recent article about how I wasn’t classified as special needs.

First and foremost, I would like to say that my mother’s writing on this occasion was relatively close to truth. Yes, she exaggerates once in awhile about what I said. I mean, some of her quotes seem more like summaries than it being verbatim. Still, I will now rebut and comment on this piece all about me and my problems.

The first paragraph seems to be relatively true. The thing is, I don’t remember any of this since I was a baby. About my large head, that is very true. In pictures of baby Adam, I look like a disproportionate cartoon character. About the whole talking thing, it is true that I couldn’t talk then, but I’ve made up for lost time. I can and do talk a lot more now. Read the rest of this entry →

Feb 5 2013

My Children Think I’m “Daddy’s Helper”

By at 9:39 am

scrubbing the toiletI, the cool and interesting mama, have been demoted. By my kids.

Exhibit A

Unnamed child, age 9, invited me to participate in Career Day at school. Then uninvited me because “Daddy works for Crayola and you just stay at home now. I don’t think the kids at school will find you very interesting.”

For those who don’t know, I was a pulpit rabbi for 12 years before off-ramping to stay at home full-time to do a better job of caring for our kids, one of whom has autism. A difficult decision at the time and many days since. Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 9 2013

Special Education Speed Dating

By at 9:43 am

I’ve heard it said that you don’t know how good you’ve got something until it’s gone. This is a story about the opposite. How I didn’t know how lacking something was until I left.

As the Yiddish saying goes, change your location, change your luck.

When we picked up and moved more than three thousand miles away from our home in order for me to stay home full-time and be a better care giver to our son, who is on the autistic spectrum, I anticipated many positive changes. The most pleasant surprise, however, has been the school system. I now realize, with that ever-clear hindsight, that our old school system was lacking. Sorely lacking. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 14 2012

I Shouldn’t Have to Explain Why I Homeschool

By at 11:26 am

This year, when all of the kids our son’s age were entering pre-k, my husband and I made the final preparations on our plan to homeschool.

We looked into all of our options and decided that, while homeschooling is by far not the only good way to educate a child, it is how we have decided to educate ours.

I thought that my explanation would need to go no further. I assumed that most people would give the same response I give whenever a friend tells me their child is going to the local school, “That’s great!”

I was wrong. Read the rest of this entry →

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 →

Oct 22 2012

Can We Afford Jewish High School?

By at 2:57 pm

high schoolI am a yeshiva educated NYC girl. I was raised in Brooklyn and grew up Orthodox. Jewish liturgy has been ingrained in me since the ripe old age of 3 when my parents first enrolled me in a formal educational setting.

Yet somehow–even during those rebellious teen years when I left the confines of my comfortable yeshiva high school for the mean and unexplored streets of public high school–I knew that someday I’d feel compelled to give my kids the same basic Jewish foundation I got as a child. And not one that would entail Hebrew school two hours a week, but one that would fully immerse them in the traditions of their ancestors, that would provide them with a real ability to read, write and speak the language of their forefathers and to understand why we Jewish people have continued to carry on these traditions since the beginning of time. I felt that inherent understanding of their natural born identity could never truly be passed onto them in any other conceivable way. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 19 2012

Preparing for a Bar Mitzvah with ADHD

By at 4:01 pm

It’s my son’s big bar mitzvah year… but Miles is a different kind of bar mitzvah boy.

Miles is a child with ADHD. You might be thinking, ahhh, another parent that says their child is ADHD. Why don’t we just add it to the list, right? That’s what we thought. We thought to ourselves it’s just a label. It’s a teacher telling us something is wrong with him just to label him because he’s wiggly, obstinate, and uncooperative at times. Well, you’re wrong. It’s real and it’s here and it’s a huge part of our life.

My husband and I were both brought up Jewish. We both went to Hebrew school. He, conservative. Me, reform. We always had the view that Miles would go to Sunday school and Hebrew school just like we did. Why wouldn’t he, right? Read the rest of this entry →

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