Loyola University Chicago
THE STRICTLY ORTHODOX JEWISH DAY SCHOOL:
DIRECTIONS FOR THE FUTURE.
A SYNTHESIS OF TRADITIONAL JEWISH VALUES
AND MODERN SECULAR RESEARCH.
The modern American Jewish day school first developed in New York city during the early part of the 20th century. How have changing conditions, in American generally and in the American Jewish community, affected what kind of schools are both possible and desirable? Focusing on the mesivta ketana, a Strictly Orthodox all-boys elementary school, this paper employs a synthesis of modern secular scholarship and traditional Jewish scholarship to explore this question.
Historical research is used to describe the past century of Orthodox Jewish education in America, detailing the development and diversification of the day school. The social changes that have occurred over the past century are detailed, with special consideration as to how those changes might effect the educational methods that are possible and desirable.
A traditional Jewish philosophy of education is articulated. Jewish education is defined to contain three main components: limud (study), chinuch (practice), and umanus (vocation). Special consideration is given to the issues raised by community funded secular education for children. Modern secular approaches to education, that are congruent with traditional Jewish concerns, are explored.
A synthesis of the traditional philosophy, current situation, and secular methods, produces a picture of an ideal Jewish school. Based on this ideal picture, specific recommendations are made to improve current educational practice within the yeshiva ketana.