As the twenty-first century unfolds the greatest challenge facing the Jewish community lies in confronting the prospect of continued erosion and assimilation. Jewish education remains the primary response to that danger. A literate Jew is simply far more likely to become a committed Jew. To collectively meet the challenge of securing Jewish continuity, Jewish education on all levels must be strengthened and enhanced. Jewish teaching has long underscored the principle that to be a Jew connotes life-time encounter with Jewish heritage-ideally from cradle unto grave. Regrettably, however, for too many American Jews Jewish learning has been reduced to its most elementary levels-often culminating and even ceasing with the bar or bat mitzvah rite of passage.
AJC has articulated broad objectives in its identification of Jewish education as essential to the Jewish future:
1) Jewish education must become a critical priority in the allocation of communal resources for domestic needs. The entire Jewish community must assume the responsibility for funding Jewish education. The Jewish community must be challenged to ensure the affordability of day school education for all Jews who desire it.
2) To secure educational effectiveness, Jewish education must target the entire Jewish family - children, adolescents and adults. AJC research has demonstrated the critical nature of the teenage years for formative Jewish learning and experiences. The challenge to the Jewish community is to break the existing norm of Jewish education terminating with bar/bat-mitzvah and to ensure its continuation through the high school years.
3) It is imperative that the community create a variety of successful models of formal and informal education including day schools, supplementary schools, and community-based schools so as to maximize parental choice in seeking models that best fit the Jewish needs of particular children and families.
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