The Role of Education in Jewish Continuity : A response to Jonathan Sacks
Contrasting explanations of Jewish survival form the backdrop to this article. For Jonathan Sacks (1994) the crucial factor has been the role played by Jewish education; indeed, he claims that the demographic threat currently facing Anglo-Jewry is largely the result of the community having neglected the Jewish education of its children over the past 200 years. He advocates reinstating this communal responsibility as the sovereign Jewish value in order to deal with the threat. In my view, the influence that Sacks attributes to education and particularly to Jewish schools is overstated. It stems from a misreading of modern Anglo-Jewish history and from a failure to take fully into account the ways in which Jewish schools impact on their pupils' ethnic and religious identity. These considerations apart, I contend that prioritising education will not necessarily strengthen the commitment to Jewish continuity that is the sine qua non of survival.