French Jews seek boost to private Jewish education

Some one-half of private-educated French Jewish children study in Christian schools because the schools are believed to be better.

french jews rally 298 (photo credit: AP)
french jews rally 298
(photo credit: AP)
French Jewish organization have joined together to found a new €25m. fund to expand private Jewish education for French Jewry, The Jerusalem Post has learned. The new Foundation Gordin, created by the Fonds Social Juif Unifie (United Jewish Social Funds), the Foundation for Holocaust Remembrance, the Rothschild Foundation, the Sacta Rashi Fund and private donors, will focus on refurbishing school buildings and constructing new schools. According to French Jewish businessman and philanthropist Pierre Besnainou, president of the United Social Funds, one-third of France's estimated 100,000 Jewish children study in Jewish private schools, another third in public schools and the last third in Christian private schools. Some one-half of private-educated Jewish children study in Christian schools because, Besnainou believes, the schools are better. A large part of the funds will go to renovate current schools, some of which have been holding classes in prefabricated buildings for 10 years. The foundation hopes to increase its funds to €50m. within 15 years, and to raise the percentage of Jewish children in private Jewish education from some 30 percent to 50%, according to Besnainou. The French government, which pays the salaries of teachers, even in private schools, has been supportive of the initiative, he added, and the Jewish Agency will be consulted regarding expanding Hebrew studies in French Jewish schools. "The next step has to be investing in better Hebrew and Israel studies," said Besnainou. "The rate of intermarriage is 60%, but it drops to 30-40% for those who went to Jewish schools. 70-80% of those who make aliya went to Jewish schools."