Jewish Education is Vital to Jewish Leadership

Dr. Darin S. Katz February 5, 2023

Last month, I attended the Head of School Conference through Prizmah: Center for Jewish Day Schools, the umbrella organization for all Jewish day schools in North America. We Heads davened, learned from experts in the field, studied with each other, reconnected in person, and reaffirmed our collective commitment to the Jewish day school field. Our conversations were abuzz surrounding a recent article that appeared in eJewishphilanthropy.com by Dr. Ezra Kopelowitz entitled “The Jewish Education of Today's Jewish Leadership.” The article concretized what many of us already know – Jewish education, and particularly Jewish day school education, has made a profound impact on inspiring future Jewish lay and professional leadership, as well as an engaged and thriving Jewish public.

 

This study was based on a survey of over two-thousand respondents who are leaders of American Jewish organizations including schools, congregations, camps, federations, advocacy groups, women’s organizations, academic bodies in Jewish studies, and social service organizations. Among many of the findings of the survey, I want to highlight some key takeaways that resonated with me:

  • Current adults in Jewish leadership positions were widely exposed in their youth to numerous Jewish educational experiences, far higher than the Jewish public at large. As many as a third went to Jewish day schools from grades K through 8, and two-thirds of them – or 23% of the total — continued on with day schools during their high school years. In other words – Jewish day schools disproportionately create the Jewish leaders of tomorrow.
  • For almost all of those who choose to become professional and lay leaders in the Jewish community, Jewish education in childhood, teen, and college years is a central part of their life trajectory.
  • Jewish leaders are providing their children higher levels of Jewish education than they themselves received.

 

We do not have to look farther than our own Hillel alumni to see firsthand how a Jewish day school education leads to Jewish communal leadership later in life. Of this year’s 

The Jewish News' 36 Under 36 2022 winners, 25% are Hillel alumni:

 

Rachel Dawson-Baglien

Jonathan Margolis

Amira Soleimani 

Danny Kaufman 

Zach Slabotsky 

Brittany Feldman

Eli Newman

Lindsay Sikora

Monica Rosen

 

These individuals embody our Portrait of a Graduate and are making meaningful and impactful contributions to our local Detroit Jewish community, the larger global Jewish community, and in Israel. We could not be more proud of our over 2,000 Hillel alumni and their involvement in their communities.

 

We do not take lightly the investment you make in your child(ren)’s education by sending them to Hillel. The research demonstrates that this investment will pay off in spades for your child(ren), your family, and for the Jewish people as a whole for decades to come. I have no doubt that the Jewish News’ 36 under 36 in a mere twenty to thirty years will be filled with the names of your children. Thank you for entrusting your child(ren) to us and giving us the opportunity to do this holy work and instill in them lifelong values.

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Picture of Dr. Darin S. Katz

Dr. Darin S. Katz

Dr. Darin S. Katz is Head of School at Hillel Day School.