Why Do Parents Affiliated to Progressive Synagogues Choose to Send Their Children to Orthodox Jewish Primary Schools?

in European Judaism

Over the last 130 years attendance by Jewish children at Jewish day schools in Britain has waxed and waned, until now, in the twenty-first century, attendance figures are similar to those of the 1880s, with almost 60 per cent of Jewish children attending a Jewish primary or secondary school. Recent research has examined this trend within the Jewish population as a whole, mainly concentrating on Jewish secondary schooling. Because of the impact this phenomenon has had on chederim and because of the fundamental differences between the different branches of Judaism, it is important for Jewish educators and leaders to understand what factors lie behind the choices that parents make when deciding on their children's schooling. This study investigates the reasons why parents who are affiliated to Progressive synagogues choose to send their children to Orthodox Jewish primary schools, concentrating on one Progressive community in the north of England in particular, and contrasting the data with that from two larger and older communities. The data was collected through the use of interviews and questionnaires, then analysed in relation to the history and size of the three communities and contrasted with the conclusions of previous studies. The findings suggest that the size and relative age and history of the principal community have had a significant influence on the attitudes of the parents toward the city's Jewish community and the importance of the role of the Orthodox Jewish primary school in maintaining that community, to the extent that the parents' social identity as 'Jews' is more important to them than their synagogue affiliation.