HAYIDION The Prizmah Journal


From the Board: The Day School Home Field Advantage

by N. Shira Brown Issue: Athletics RAVSAK

Jewish day schools partner with parents in many ways. When our family recently welcomed our third child, I got to see exactly how unique, special and multifaceted the partnership is between family and Jewish day school. As our family changed, our children’s day school, Kadimah Academy, responded in meaningful ways, by being flexible, offering afterschool care to my children and providing them with the extra attention in class that this change in circumstances required. This sensitivity to family circumstances is a unique hallmark of Jewish day school education and is an aspect of the value proposition that we don’t talk about enough.

 

In my childhood, the idea of a global community was an emerging notion. There was no internet; most of us had at least one stay-at-home parent; we learned how to be part of a community by playing outside in our neighborhood. Our reality was largely defined by the worldview of one city block. Today, our children face a far different reality: there are 7 billion people on the planet, we live in a global economy, two-thirds of families are dual income, parents have trouble spending more than one hour a day with their children, and we are all awash in an ocean of noise from social media.

 

How do we create new paradigms in the here and now for the new realities our children face? How do we inoculate our children against the more adverse challenges this global community pushes our children to confront: the human isolation, the stress of intense and nearly anarchistic free-market competition, social frameworks where deeply meaningful relationships are practically nonexistent? How do kids anchor themselves in terms of values, ethical framing, and the fundamentals of building a community?

 

The answer can be found within Jewish community day schools. The day school environment educates our children to intersect with safe harbors in an ocean of global challenges by providing a depth of enriching and authentic communal relationships. Jewish day schools teach the fundamentals of building a community as a natural paradigm. What it takes to keep a day school together is community building and preservation. Children, teachers and parents are deeply involved in the process, particularly in small schools which offer a multiage environment.

 

Within a Jewish day school, relationships are deeply intentional; day school teachers are parent extensions in ways not possible in public schools. Day schools teach children at an early age the notion of communal responsibility, that human beings are not disposable and that there are consequences to action; that relationships are important and must be repaired when damaged. The Jewish day school worldview is indeed global, but in a way that emphasizes connectedness not competition: Kol yisrael arevim ze la ze—All Jews are responsible for one another. All humans are responsible for one another. Our world, and our precious children, need this grounding now more than ever.

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Athletics

This issue presents a wealth of guidance and examples for day schools to stay on top of their game. Articles discuss how schools ensure that athletics stay informed by a school's mission, by embodying Jewish values and embracing inclusivity; how they can use sports as a vehicle for teaching about and fostering love for Israel; how a wide range of sports can bring out the best in students and faculty; and how schools can more broadly employ movement and teach healthy living.

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