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The Day School Experience: Cultivating Engaged Jewish Individuals

By Tami Warshawsky, Director of Advancement, Solomon Schechter Day School of Metropolitan Chicago

What is the lasting impact of a Jewish day school on children and families? The best answer comes from listening to the heartfelt words of parents and alumni. Their stories resonate with the strong sense of Jewish identity, deep connection to Israel, critical thinking skills, Jewish values, and enduring bonds forged within day school communities.

However, for those seeking empirical evidence, in March 2024, the Jewish United Fund of Metropolitan Chicago unveiled a report entitled: From Classroom to Community: Exploring the Partnership between Jewish Day Schools & JUF. The report underscores the benefits of Jewish day school education and offers a comprehensive overview of the value that Jewish day schools have on the broader Jewish community.

When describing the value, the report states:

Jewish day schools play an essential role in the preservation and flourishing of Jewish identity and community. Serving as vital community pillars these institutions provide excellent academic education and serve as hubs for the transmission of Jewish values, traditions, and culture.

The day school experience is instrumental in cultivating engaged Jewish individuals, and day school alumni demonstrate a strong sense of Jewish identity and engagement, serving as active participants in communal activities, charitable endeavors, support of Israel, and a lifelong commitment to preserving and enriching Jewish communal life.

The JUF report cites 7 reasons why day schools play a significant role in shaping the next generation of the Jewish community.
  1. Foster a strong Jewish identity
  2. Promote social and moral values
  3. Cultivate love of and connection to Israel
  4. Forge connections within the community
  5. Create Jewishly-engaged people
  6. Nurture future Jewish leaders
  7. Strengthen Jewish continuity  
Below are some findings cited in the JUF report using data from JUF’s 2020 Metropolitan Chicago Jewish Population Study:

In conclusion, in an era marked by an alarming resurgence of antisemitism, today’s Jewish parents face an array of challenges, particularly concerning their children’s education and identity. By equipping children with a robust foundation encompassing both comprehensive general and Judaic Studies, instilling enduring Jewish values, and fostering a deep-rooted connection to their heritage, Jewish day schools offer parents a valued partner to raise resilient children with the tools to navigate unforeseen challenges and thrive in today’s and tomorrow’s world. 

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