American Jewish day school umbrella welcomes the Israeli government's future investment in schools across the Untied States after Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Ministry said it will invest NIS 150 million in establishing a new project to substantially expand the number of children in Jewish day schools in North America.
The project, titled “Aleph Bet,” was unveiled by Diaspora Affairs and Combating Antisemitism Minister Amichai Chikli a few weeks ago during a briefing on his ministry’s work at the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs Committee.
US Jewish day school statistics
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Paul Bernstein, CEO of Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, shared some interesting statistics regarding Jewish day schools in the US.
According to multiple surveys conducted throughout the pandemic, enrollment was up in day schools across all denominations and most geographic areas. Notably, families that transferred into Jewish day schools because of COVID have mostly stayed. "72% of students who enrolled due to the pandemic re-enrolled for the 2022-23 academic year," Bernstein said. "Enrollment in preschool programs increased by 5% this year, suggesting the pipeline is strong for future students."
According to the 2020 Pew Survey, 85% of Orthodox adults said that they attended full-time Jewish day schools for at least one year, as opposed to 31% of Conservative-affiliated Jews and 14% of Reform-affiliated Jews. Additionally, the AVI CHAI Census of Jewish day schools published in 2020 found that a total of 292,172 students were enrolled in Jewish day schools operating at the elementary and secondary school levels in the US in the 2018–2019 school year. This represents an increase of 37,423 students, or 14.7%, in the five-year period between the 2013–2014 census and this report. Each of the previous three censuses showed increases of 11% over the preceding reports.
When asked about Minister Chikli's initiative, Bernstein stated that Prizmah welcomes the Israeli government’s commitment to investing in the growth of Jewish day school education in North America and the diaspora. "We are thrilled at the prospect of partnering with Minister Amichai Chikli and helping to make this a reality," he said. He also mentioned that their top priorities to address to ensure the success of Jewish day schools are affordability, talent and educational excellence.
"In recent years, we have seen creative and successful strategies for approaching the tuition challenge," Bernstein said. "At the school level and the communal level, most recently in places like Seattle, Toronto, San Diego and Atlanta, leaders are deeply invested in experimenting with new models making Jewish day school education more accessible for all families."
Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools is an organization that provides support and resources to Jewish day schools across North America. They have recently launched a nine-month effort, in partnership with the Jewish Education Innovation Challenge (JEIC), to identify, publicize and increase investment in projects to ensure that more qualified and committed day school educators are in the pipeline.
"We know that our teachers and educators, who inspire student learning and development, are the most important factor in the academic excellence and educational success of Jewish day schools," Bernstein said. "We are thrilled that the Aleph Bet project will be focused on training teachers for Jewish and Israel studies - and welcome their involvement and commitment."