I thought that today, we’d talk about that little elephant on the blog.
It’s called yes, the Martells *are* pulling their kids from Jewish Day School and opting to send their children to public school come this September 4th.
We are happy with this decision.
But because I live in an only-sort-of large Jewish community in the Toronto nosebleeds, there, of course, has been a lot of talk. Of course there has. After all, I went to Jewish day school for many, many years. I went to Jewish preschool, elementary school, high school. I even spent a year after high school
tanning learning at a party school seminary in Jerusalem. I kid, mostly. My husband went to Jewish day school too, until he went to University.
And I guess when we started out at this whole parenting business in 2001, we just assumed that our children would follow the path that we did. It was a fairly safe assumption—it’s the only thing we knew.
So we followed this path.
And it was good for us.
Until it was no longer good for us anymore.
And honestly, that’s the hardest part about the entire thing for me. I’m so disappointed that it’s no longer good for us anymore. Because I just always thought it would be.
And, you know, there are whispers we keep hearing. The Martells just want to use their money for selfish reasons. Ali just wants to not have to work. Apparently, it’s because of Josh—he has some “issues.” It’s because they aren’t Orthodox, you know—they are headed into a downward spiral. The Martells don’t care about anything Jewish anymore. The Martells had a huge falling-out with the school so they are pulling out because they are angry.
Well, I hate to break to it to the whisperers and gossips out there, but none of your reasons are right.
Yes, money is an issue for us—a huge one, in fact. The cost of Jewish Day School is all-consuming. I have three children. Tuition is at $15,000 a child, per year. If you are doing the math at home, that’s $45,000 a year. That’s almost my ENTIRE salary. And that, friends, is not an exaggeration. I am an editor, and last time I checked, editors do not make very much money. My job is rewarding in so many ways—not financially. And, Jewish high school, the last I heard, was at about $22,000 per child. My husband and I are lucky that we are both employed full-time. And yet. We bought our mini-van used, and it’s a Grand Caravan—not a fancy Odyssey or Sienna like the rest of the school parking lot. We couldn’t afford to send Emily to overnight camp until we were no longer writing monthly tuition checks. We couldn’t go on a single family vacation. We couldn’t afford for Emily to be in more plays. We could only afford city camps. We couldn’t afford to swing a trip to Atlanta to see my sister—who I haven’t seen IN YEARS because she lived in Australia. We couldn’t afford to fly to Nashville to see our new niece. We couldn’t afford to take our family to Israel this summer for my nephew’s Bar-Mitzvah. Only a fraction of us were able to go.
We, essentially, were putting all of our financial eggs into this one basket—the tuition basket.
In my head I kept coming back to this—all of the things they were missing.
I want my children to be able to go to Israel for their cousin’s Bar-Mitzvah—what a HUGE JEWISH EXPERIENCE. I want my children to go to overnight camp—what a HUGE JEWISH EXPERIENCE.
So, YES, we want them to experience their culture, their heritage, who they are and where they came from. But financially, there was no way to swing both.
Sure, they were getting a Jewish day school education, but we were being forced to hold them back from everything else.
Yes, the school itself was an issue for us. There were stories I was going to tell you, but I decided against it. I left the school fairly unhappy, and I thought about using this very public platform to discuss the reasons why I am unhappy, and then I grew up and decided against it. The stories I have about the school in general are my stories—they belong to Emily, they belong to US. But yes. We are not pulling out because we are angry, but some things that happened did solidify our choices. But these are OUR choices, and we own them. 1000%. A NEW environment is the very best thing we can provide our children right now.
No, my work is not an issue. I work full-time. I will still continue to work full-time. END OF STORY.
No, our non-orthodoxy is NOT an issue for us. We are not Orthodox. We don’t care if this makes you uncomfortable.
If you don’t want to eat on our plates, we will serve on paper plates—happily. If you don’t want to eat the food that we cook in our ovens, we will get kosher pizza delivery—happily. But, just because we are not orthodox, it does not mean that we do not deeply, deeply care about our traditions and our heritage. We have a huge friday night Shabbat dinner every week—it’s filled with challah and wine and chicken soup and kugel. We light Shabbat candles every single Friday night. We celebrate holidays. We are not Orthodox, but we are very, very traditional. And if we could, we would still be sending our children to a Jewish Day School—because Orthodox or not, we believe in the day school system. We love that our children learn so much about who they are and where they came from. We found a fabulous Hebrew school where our children will continue to learn these things—they just won’t learn them every single day.
And we are okay with this.
We are excited about this new adventure because even though we believe in the Jewish Day School system, we ALSO believe in the Public School System.
We are excited that our children will be immersed in an environment where there are children with different upbringings, different cultures, different traditions.
We are excited to be able to take our first family vacation.
We are excited to be able to send our children to summer camps, and to take more extra-curricular activities, to make it to family celebrations in Israel.
And you know, selfishly, we are excited to someday get rid of that damn Dodge Grand Caravan.