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Education is an essential component of Judaism

Written on September 28th, 2007

Mother of five says it’s important to give her children the opportunity to be involved in their faith community

Cari Kozierok Bahar says she sends her five children to Jewish day schools because the religion is based on education and language.

“Judaism is a religion that is based on education and on a language, and if you don’t have that education and you don’t have the language you can’t participate fully,” she says. The Hebrew language is an important part of Judaism, with its own alphabet. Kozierok Bahar says it is complex to learn, and without knowing the language you cannot fully participate in the religion.

Because education and understanding Hebrew are essential parts of Judaism, Kozierok Bahar says it was important to her that her children gain the knowledge so they could choose their level of involvement.

“I really wanted my kids to have fully that education so that when it came time for them to choose their level of observance and their level of involvement in our community it wouldn’t be by default because they didn’t know,” she says.

Kozierok Bahar says her children’s Jewish day schools uses half of the day to teach students in Hebrew to fully immerse them into the language while learning about prayers, holidays, customs, traditions, Bible stories, history lessons and Israel. The older grades look further into commentaries and Jewish laws.

The other half of the day is in English teaching the students the full Ontario curriculum. “It’s rigorous by time alone, and academically there’s an edge,” she says.

Kozierok Bahar says most families in her community who acknowledge themselves as Jews send their children to some kind of Jewish education program. There are also afternoon programs where children who attend public schools can go after school to learn.

There are a variety of Jewish day schools that reflect different cross-sections of the community and of the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox denominations. Tuition prices vary, but per child in elementary school it is approximately $11,000 and for high school $17,500.

“I think that raising children in their own faith is like nurturing a root system in a tree,” says Kozierok Bahar. “I think that if you bring children up in a place where their roots are deep and stable then what’s possible for them to contribute to the world is their full potential.”