Editorial: Cultivating Jewish roots

The Lion's Tale Staff

The start of the school year and the upcoming high holiday season mark a time to reflect on our Jewish identity and values. CESJDS students are lucky to have an exemplary religion-based education with varying choices of Judaic classes, holiday celebrations and programming about Jewish identity.

We feel that students often take for granted the privilege that receiving a dual education is. Many students set aside this education and think that Judaic studies classes are irrelevant to their daily lives. However, the Jewish curriculum not only allows students to become proficient in a second language, but it also prepares students for the future by instilling core Jewish values in them from a young age. 

One of JDS’s most beneficial programs is the Zman Kodesh program in middle and high school. It offers a variety of options for spiritual connections ranging from yoga to mechitzah minyan. This allows students to connect with their Jewish identity however they best see fit. The program encourages students to explore different expressions of Judaism and foster an individual spiritual connection. 

JDS also offers a robust program on Jewish literature and the history of the Jewish people. Starting in elementary school, students gain an understanding of Jewish text through reading Torah and studying ancient commentators like Rashi in their classes. This foundation of Jewish literature allows students to explore the history of their people and evaluate the connection they have to their ancestors. 

Not every student is going to feel a connection through Jewish literature. Still, these classes  provide a foundation for students to formulate their own opinions and, as they progress in their education, use that foundation to understand their identities. 

In addition to Hebrew literature and religious history, JDS offers a variety of Israeli history classes aimed to educate students on Israel’s progression of culture. For many students, two of the most meaningful and informative classes are the History of Modern Israel and History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. These classes educate students on all perspectives of the conflict. Through this education, students have the background to be informed young adults and are better prepared for potential antisemitism and backlash they may encounter in college. 

Students often complain about the extra classes and workload this adds to their schedule. By doing so, they are taking for granted the extensive and unique education we are gaining.

Jews make up only 2.4% of the United States population and according to Pew Research Center, only 1.8% are practicing. Even if many JDS students decide to not practice Judaism after high school, JDS equips them with the proper knowledge to decide how they want to practice Judaism in a world where Jews are a minority. 

In addition to offering classes and programming on Jewish identity, the school also has a plethora of holiday celebrations that teach students about the traditions of the Jewish people. From a Purim spiel to lighting the Hanukkah candles, these celebrations allow for an important connection with students’ Jewish identities, even if they do not practice these traditions at home. 

Our rich Jewish education allows for students to explore their own practices and evaluate how they want to continue observing Judaism after high school. As the next generation of Jews, what we are learning is essential to helping a minority religion such as Judaism live on.