Jewish School - Yes or No

(73 Posts)
FloraIris Mon 13-Nov-17 20:38:58


Wondering if any Jewish parents could provide me with some advice.

There is a Jewish school not far from us and I was thinking of sending my boys there. We are not Jewish but the school is good.

The question is, are my children likely to feel excluded because they’re not Jewish? Will other children attend their birthday parties even though we don’t have a kosher home?

I’m just wondering if it is a good idea or not and any advice would be appreciated.


OP’s posts: |
hibbledobble Mon 13-Nov-17 23:00:42

It very much depends on the school, and I'm guessing you don't want to name it here.

I would visit and ask them what proportion of their children are jewish, and consider the level of religious practice of the families (which is based on the type of Jewish school)

Ragusa Mon 13-Nov-17 23:04:22

Would you get in?? Apologies if you have already considered that.

TheVanguardSix Mon 13-Nov-17 23:17:02

I really wouldn't.
If you're not of the faith, I wouldn't.

FloraIris Mon 13-Nov-17 23:49:41

95% Jewish and there is a high chance that we could get in.

OP’s posts: |
TrollTheRespawnJeremy Tue 14-Nov-17 00:00:01

I wouldn't. Why teach your children to associate with cultural holidays/norms that you don't intend to take part in?

We live in a very Jewish area, I am half Jewish and my DD doesn't go to the Jewish school. Why make life harder for them?

Adarajames Tue 14-Nov-17 00:25:13

Practical implications of differing holiday dates / term dates to consider as well


OldWitch00 Tue 14-Nov-17 00:52:31

Ask the head for the name of a parent to speak to. My experience is the Jewish community is very tight and non faith families always are at an arms length.

FloraIris Tue 14-Nov-17 09:49:09

Thanks everyone. Some really good points. It would be good to hear from a non-Jewish parent at the school. My nephew attends a catholic school and we found the children and parents to be very inclusive (we are Christian). I thought that a Jewish school or any other faith school may be much the same, but perhaps not.

OP’s posts: |
samG76 Tue 14-Nov-17 11:31:30

There are a few non-Jewish children at DC's Jewish school, and they seem to get on fine. But Jewish holidays would be a pain for working non-Jewish (and non practising Jewish) parents. The difference with a Catholic school is that Catholicism is more about belief, whereas Judaism is more about doing things, so kashrut/shabbat and the like could be a problem, but they are not insurmountable.

DullAndOld Tue 14-Nov-17 11:35:06

I wouldnt, it would be really weird for the child

Lolalovespugs Tue 14-Nov-17 11:39:53

Would you not need to get points from a synagogue to attend anyway? Most Jewish schools ask for this to gain priority admittance.

The only Jewish school I can think of where you could gain a place without points due to being undersubscribed I would personally avoid.

My children are half Jewish, they are going to a Jewish secondary because it’s our closest and best school and even I’m slightly concerned about that and they have been bought up to know about the religion. I wouldn’t send my child if non-Jewish.

mindutopia Tue 14-Nov-17 11:41:29

I'm Jewish and I would say it isn't really the norm for non-Jewish children to attend Jewish schools. I think it would seem pretty odd. The education will be good, but it's a very specific community. Most Jews (the exception being especially orthodox ones) would be welcoming to a non-Jewish family. There's no discomfort there. It's not a converting religion and they aren't interested in finding and bring in new people to convert to being Jewish (as would be the case in a Christian school), so they would be open and welcoming and have no issue with you not being Jewish (assuming it's a fairly progressive school) and they wouldn't want to convert your children to Judaism. But it would be odd to seek out a Jewish school if you aren't Jewish and have no intention of converting. The point of Jewish schools are really to be part of a community and to participate in community religious rituals. It's so hard to find that outside of a Jewish school, so it tends to be pretty close knit and it would be weird to be there just for the education, but not because your child and family want to wholeheartedly participate in spiritual life and rituals. Being a Jew can be so isolating that synagogues and Jewish schools become places where Jews can be part of that sort of community. So it would be weird to join that community but have no intention of participating and living life as a Jew. I think your children would feel very out of place. It also very much depends those on the sort of Jewish school it is. A very progressive, hippy sort of Jewish school might be one thing, an orthodox one would be very different. Not all Jews keep kosher (we don't), but if many or all do, no they wouldn't come to birthday parties unfortunately if they are very strict unless you had it catered for in a kosher venue. You would probably be expected to participate in a degree of synagogue life and various festivals. They would want your kids to learn hebrew, etc. and you may need to pay for that outside of school to catch them up.

I would say it's nothing like going to a catholic or christian school and christianity is much more part of mainstream culture. My dd is Jewish and she goes to a C of E school. She came home the other day singing about Jesus. But it's still very christian 'light' and it's no big deal that she's in the Christmas play because Christmas is just ubiquitous in our culture. It's everywhere anyway, so it doesn't really seem that weird they talk about it at school, even though we don't practice any of that at home. I think it would seem very strange though to be within a very minority religious community that you are not yourself apart of just for the education (which is no doubt good), even though in most cases, most Jews would be lovely to you and welcoming (they would still think it seemed strange).

EvilEdna1 Tue 14-Nov-17 11:46:24

I went to a 6th form college with a high proportion of Jewish students and there was zero socialising between Jewish and non-jewish kids. There was no tension either and we were all friendly in classes but there was a definite line that wasn't crossed. Mind you there was another between ex-private school and catchment state comps as well...but that's another thing.

samG76 Tue 14-Nov-17 12:05:17

Most Jews (the exception being especially orthodox ones) would be welcoming to a non-Jewish family)

Very harsh - why shouldn't orthodox Jews be welcoming? In reality, schools that are ultra-orthodox are likely to have additional entry requirements, which would exclude OP, and would spend a very high proportion of the day on Jewish subjects.

horsemadmom Tue 14-Nov-17 12:08:45

If this is Simon Marks, you'd be absolutely fine. It's always had a mix because it's quite far from where most (non Cheredi)Jewish families now live.

DullAndOld Tue 14-Nov-17 12:23:35

" why shouldn't orthodox Jews be welcoming? "

IME they seem to keep themselves separate from wider society. that is just what i have observed in North London and in Wales, i have no intention of being offensive.

OP, it would be strange for the child to be excluded from various celebrations. As a PP said, Jewish schools and synagogues are a lot about the Jewish community.

FloraIris Tue 14-Nov-17 14:37:43

Thanks everyone. Very helpful. I will take this all on board and try to speak to other non-Jewish parents at the school. The school is on our doorstep so coupled with a good education, it would also be convenient. I don’t think it is a particularly orthodox school, but in an ideal world it would be great if the boys didn’t feel ostracised. The boys wear a kippah as part of the uniform and non-Jews wear a cap. Perhaps my boys would feel odd about being/looking different.

OP’s posts: |
OldWitch00 Tue 14-Nov-17 15:03:11

I don’t see the kippah as an issue as much as play dates and kosher meal prep.

samG76 Tue 14-Nov-17 15:05:23

Dull and old - there's a difference between keeping oneself separate and excluding people (especially kids). DH plays football in a group that is mainly but not exclusively Jewish, and it's true that he would be unlikely to join, eg, the local rugby club.

But we wouldn't exclude any non-Jewish kids in class from parties, etc, and if any non-Jewish (or non-religious) family wanted a playdate we would suggest they buy in something kosher or just provide sandwiches.

niteandfog Tue 14-Nov-17 15:11:03

I'm Jewish but I'm too far away from any Jewish school, so don't have experience in that way. If they wear a kippah I would think the school is at the very least conservative. There's probably a good chunk of reform/liberal families too. If there's a good proportion of the latter, then Synagogue life wouldn't be a big deal, as we tend to attend just for the high holidays (Pesach and Yom Kippur). Keeping kosher for lunchboxes could be a pain... I would assume they stick to dairy.

FanDabbyFloozy Tue 14-Nov-17 16:57:26

I wouldn't pick a Jewish school if I didn't have some affinity to the culture and/or religion. The children learn Hebrew and do religious studies and often the parents are expected to pay for these and security. There are different holidays and hours (e.g. early finish on Firdays in winter). Culturally your child may feel left out if not having a bar mitzvah.

hiyasminitsme Tue 14-Nov-17 18:32:38

There are loads of Jewish holidays in September, for which the school will be shut - many Jewish schools then don't have a half-term in the winter term to make up. would that bother you - loads of odd days off but no half-term?

FloraIris Tue 14-Nov-17 19:22:00

I didn’t realise that the odd days off meant that they wouldn’t have half term at the usual times. There is a lot to consider. I know that Friday is half day but wouldn’t cause issues as I could fill the afternoon with an extra curricular activity.

OP’s posts: |
DullAndOld Tue 14-Nov-17 19:24:19

I am sure its a good school but why would you set your children up to be outsiders? School life is hard enough as it is .

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