Jewish Boarding Schools

Written by mark wollacott
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Religious boarding schools are similar to traditional boarding schools. For parents who wish to keep their children educated within their religious belief system, however, religious boarding schools offer an alternative to the traditional boarding school. While there are some 750 Jewish day schools in America, Jewish boarding schools are harder to find, with the American Hebrew Academy being the most well-known. A Jewish boarding school has similarities and differences when compared with its non-Jewish counterpart, ranging from the effect of religion on curricula and faculty to the activities and organisations in which students participate to graduation requirements.

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Curriculum

A Jewish boarding school offers a general education comparable to traditional boarding schools, in that students are prepared for college and taught "life skills" needed for success beyond the classroom. Besides a traditional education, however, a mixed curriculum, based on the denomination to which the school is affiliated, also is offered. A Jewish boarding school will focus on topics associated with the Jewish faith, including Judaism, Zionism, the Yiddish language and Jewish history. At the American Hebrew Academy, students are encouraged to visit Israel and are required to complete one trimester of academic work there.

Faculty

Jewish boarding schools employ faculty from everywhere, including Israel. Instructors are very open to student opinion and treat their students as family. This is based on the belief that the learning process involves a lot of "give and take." By employing staff of mixed origin but of the Hebrew faith, these schools allow for academics with a deep knowledge of Jewish heritage and culture, but at the same time well-versed in American curricula.

Students

Students from all over the country, as well as the world, are welcomed to study in Jewish boarding schools. The only requirement is that they profess the Jewish faith. This gives students the feeling of being "at home" because of the culture within the school, while at the same time they are introduced to individuals from different backgrounds.

Roots and Religion

Attending a Jewish boarding school is all about connecting with Jewish roots, not about being orthodox, but rather learning about Jewish culture, literature and exploring the core of Jewish knowledge. Because the Torah is a central tenet of education in Judaism, a Jewish boarding school offers an in-depth study of the Torah in a religious setting, taught by those who understand what it "means to be Jewish."

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