Metropolitan Schechter High School to Close; Hebrew Charter to Open

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The JTA is reporting that Metropolitan Schechter in Teaneck, NJ will be closing. Metropolitan Schechter was formed just last year when Manhattan Schechter closed and merged with Teaneck’s Schechter Regional. As a result, this closure leaves the Conservative movement without a high school in the New York region. As I wrote here previously, administrative, managerial, and fundraising issues aside, this closure still reflects the failure of the Conservative movement to “walk the walk” on Jewish education.

Meanwhile, Broward County, Florida is about to become home of the first-ever “Hebrew Charter” school, delivering a secular education with a Hebrew-language emphasis, devoid of Jewish content. As Jonathan Tobin points out, the latter’s opening, no less than the former’s closing, “is a direct threat to the one institution proven to be our best investment in our future:” the Jewish Day School.

Hat Tip: Steve Brizel

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18 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft-thanks for the compliment.Unless one is on welfare, a kollel parent or given a courtesy as a rabbi or rebbe or morah, all parents pay some share of tuition , go to fundraisers, etc in every school.

    My query is simple-If a person and community believe that a Jewish education requires both day school and high education with Judaic and secular studies, then the people who comprise that community simply have to walk the walk in addition to talking the talk. That seems to be an elementary aspect of Mesiras Nefesh which that community cannot afford to be meikil on in this generation at the expense of the Jewish education of the next generation. Communities where large homes, multiple vacations, summer camps and household help simply do not strike as those that would be considered IMO “Bmakom Choli Lo Gazru Rabbanan.” IOW, think twice about where and how you spend your money before even thinking of neither paying tuition or even worse-allowing a school to close-both on a communal or individual level.

    I remain amazed at the reaction of the parent body. Any yeshiva or day school that wants to maintain itself has a range of aggressive and even inapropiate fund raising tactics. I remain appalled that a school in one of the Northeast’s most affluent communities simply collapsed withoout a whimper or more importantly-with what appears to be a lack of due diligence into the management of the school.

  2. mycroft says:

    Mycroft-how about Mesiras Nefesh for a Jewish education, as opposed to Kishkes?

    Comment by Steve Brizel

    The question is how much Mesiras Nefesh is required-analogy one does not have to spend more than 1/5 of ones assets to perform any positive commandment. Halacha itself recognizes degrees of sacrifice required. On Rabbinic decrees-the Rabbis themselves have categories bmakom choli lo gazru Rabbanon.
    For better or worse-I paid Yeshiva/day school full tuition every year that I was eligible to.
    Steve-I don’t know you-but what I think I know about your life I am impressed. But tp paraphrase one should be a machmir on ones own Mesiras Nefesh-not on others mesrat nefesh.

  3. Yaakov Menken says:

    Perhaps I should not have said the “NY Region,” but, nonetheless, the existence of schools over half an hour away are cold comfort in “one of the wealthiest and most well-populated areas of the country,” especially as regards the Jewish community.

    That line is taken from the NY Jewish Week article about the closing, which, as with the previous articles on the topic, discusses the scant support within the Conservative Jewish community when it was needed. Yes, the administration of the school apparently left much to be desired — but this does not mean the movement could not have acted to save the school.

  4. Loberstein says:

    Bloggers have no fear of interpreting things when they don’t know the facts. I have no idea why this school in NJ closed. There are some very wealthy Jews who have endowed Conservative schools, like one in the Philly area. There are people who do not want to give millions to orthodoxy but will give millions to non demoninational schools. This is true in Baltimore of the Shoshana Cardin High School. One of its founders told me that money will be no problem.

    The problem as I see it is, what are you trying to accomplish in the school? If the teachers are muzzled and frumkeit is not on the agenda, it is hard to stay medium rare Jews. The trend is either more or less observant. Fewer non orthodox keep kosher in their homes and even if a child goes to the Solomon Schechter School, it doesn’t mean that there is any shabbos in the home.

    I do not blame anyone, it is just a hard row to how.

  5. Bob Miller says:

    There is no need for parents to spend the big bucks on a school to teach their kids an arch-accommodationist religion. The kids will pick this up naturally, organically at home.

  6. Peter Yurowittz says:

    The demise of Schechter in Teaneck has nothing whatsoever to do with either the Conservative movement or community support. It is totally the result of 4 years of administrative and managerial incompetence. Sadly, only the students and teachers are paying the final price.

  7. Steve Brizel says:

    Mycroft-how about Mesiras Nefesh for a Jewish education, as opposed to Kishkes?

  8. newman says:

    here is an article in which the bright lights of the C movement assess their state of affairs… http://www.forward.com/articles/11511/

    i hope it is pareve enough to be listed here…

  9. mycroft says:

    am aware that many Teaneck residents sent their kids to school in Elizabeth or elsewhere, but do you think that this parent body has the same kishkes?

    Inappropriate language to be describing other Jews — but note they must get some from far away — the Schechter schools in NYC area — are just 1 in LI, 1 in NJ and 1 in Westchester — there are far more Ortho day schools in those areas — thus the conservative parent will likely average sending his kid more miles for the SS experience.

  10. dr. william gewirtz says:

    perhaps some credit to maimonides, smith, ramaz, frisch, kushner, etc. who continue to attract from the non-orthodox community. i wonder how to measure that even versus another boy in lakewood? despite being a daat yachid, RYYW ztl’s opinion on co-ed schools may still have relevance, especially in larger communities. without these schools these closings become even more ominous.

  11. yochie says:

    the last time I lokked the West Orange SHS had no mezzuzot on the doors.
    I wonder if the parents who would have sent their kids are also opponents of vouchers?

  12. mycroft says:

    As a result, this closure leaves the Conservative movement without a high school in the New York region. As I wrote here previously, administrative, managerial, and fundraising issues aside, this closure still reflects the failure of the Conservative movement to “walk the walk” on Jewish education.

    It is inappropriate language even if true-there have been many Orthodox Day Schools that have closed-others opened- but as Reb Yid points out :

    There are 3 large Schechter high schools in the area, in Glen Cove (Long Island), West Orange (New Jersey) and Hartsdale (Westchester).

  13. Steve Brizel says:

    Reb Yid-do you think that the parent body of the Teaneck school, having been left up the proverbial river without a paddle, will shell out the $ to pay for a long bus ride to any of the other schools? I am aware that many Teaneck residents sent their kids to school in Elizabeth or elsewhere, but do you think that this parent body has the same kishkes?

  14. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Jewish Day Schools are expensive. The classical solutions of asking rich Jews to subsidize them, or asking parents to scrimp and save, only go so far. At the end of the day, some parents (such as me and my wife) have to rely on their own skills and a few hours a week in a synagogue.

    I think it would be tremendously useful if Project Genesis were to develop some material to help parents teach elementary Judaism to their children. Could you do it? Please? I promise to volunteer my course development skills.

  15. Reb Yid says:

    While the closing of the Teaneck high school is a serious issue, it’s still incorrect to assert that “this closure leaves the Conservative movement without a high school in the New York region.”

    There are 3 large Schechter high schools in the area, in Glen Cove (Long Island), West Orange (New Jersey) and Hartsdale (Westchester).

  16. HILLEL says:

    THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COIN

    These free schools will allow thousands of Jewish children who would never enter a private school to get some background in Judaism, since it is impossible to teach Hebrew–or any language–without including at least a smattering of culture.

    The New York Times article on the Florida Ben-Gamla School shown children in class wearing the traditional skullcap. This is a hopeful sign.

    Hopefully, these schools will serve to intoduce many Jewish children from totally-assimilated homes to their birthright and heritage.

  17. Steve Brizel says:

    Commmentary’s latest issue ( not yet on line) has an incisive article by Dr Jack Wertheimer on the rise, fall and demise of CJ. The closing of a Solomon Schechter high school in a main middle to upper income Jewish community, speaks volumes as to the direction of CJ.

  18. Josh says:

    Schechter has a High School in West Orange, NJ (metropolitan area).