Jewish Education

I must disagree with Yehudis Fishmanís opinion piece (If There Has to Be a Choice, Let It Be For Early Childhood Education).  Ms. Fishman argues that that if we have to make a choice, early childhood education should take precedence over later education. 


The cost of Jewish Education is an ancient problem.  Like everything else, the issue is discussed in the Talmud.  We see education issues discussed in Kiddushin 29B.  The Code of Jewish Law (Yoreh Deah 245:2) notes from the Talmud that if the father himself is not knowledgeable and there are not enough resources for both he and his son to learn, generally the fatherís education takes precedence. 


Anyone who has children recognizes the obvious wisdom here.  First of all, when we learn Torah, we learn how to act.  We learn how to treat our families.  Children remember little of what we say but they remember everything we do.  When children see their father (and mother) learning, when they see him correcting his own behavior, growing spiritually, becoming a better husband and father, when they see him putting his learning before his recreation, before his luxuries, they learn a personal standard.  They also learn appropriate priorities.  The children learn that personal growth is a lifetime activity, not a goal to be achieved and forgotten like pre-school graduation. 


Of course, this places a huge responsibility on the parents.  We canít hand off responsibility for our childrenís education to the schools.  We have to deal with it ourselves. 


We can change the world (including our children) most effectively by changing ourselves first. If school tuition is more than you can handle, enroll in one of the many free classes for Jewish adults.  The best (and hardest) thing you can do for your children is to be a better role model.