The Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley prides itself on being a true community day school. We embrace Jewish diversity and deliver top-notch general and Judaic education to our students. We welcome students from families at every level of observance and affiliation as well as unaffiliated Jews who wish to provide their children with a Jewish education. The JDS, together with our local clergy, support and strengthen the Lehigh Valley Jewish community -- one that enables a community school to flourish in a spirit of cooperation and mutual respect across all the streams of Judaism.
The Jewish Day School is a member of PRIZMAH, the hub agency for Jewish day schools committed to serving students and families from across the spectrum of Jewish life.
Everyone loves numbers. They legitimize and quantify things but they don’t tell the whole story. There is no question that students with a day school education tend to maintain some connection to the Jewish community as adults. What the numbers don’t reveal are the intangible values, particularly outside large metropolitan areas. It offers students the opportunity to learn about the holidays and to celebrate them with ones’ family without the angst involved with making up missed classes and feeling ‘weird.’ A day school education also provides positive Jewish role models: people whose lives demonstrate the warmth, joy and importance of Judaism. A day school education provides an atmosphere not only to practice Judaism but to live it. Torah informs everything: music, art, math, computers, science and g’milut hasadim - acts of lovingkindness. The focus of a day school education is not only knowledge of both secular and Jewish subjects but menschlichkeit - living a life of integrity. Truly, what more do we want for our children?
...a day school experience is much like that of a Jewish summer camp experience, only lasting all school year long. How lucky for those who get to learn in such an extraordinary place! Imagine what spending all year long in a safe, supportive, Jewish community can do for a young person’s mind and soul. Our youth play a vital role in the future of Judaism and the world at large and so I support a Jewish day school experience. Children need love and encouragement to thrive and this is exactly what they will receive at the JDS.
Like any choice we make for our children, deciding whether a faith-based school is the best option requires consideration. What can a Jewish based education provide for my child? Out of the many things a Jewish education can provide, and which the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley provides for my children, perhaps one of the most important is a lens through which to examine the broader world, a lens where they are able to see their Jewish and mundane lives as part of a cohesive whole. The beauty of our Jewish school is that children don't just learn while they are at school, they thrive. JDSl graduates are more resistant to social pressures that lead to risky behaviors.
In addition to standard curriculum, the students learn about their own identities, history, and traditions in a completely natural and meaningful way because the culture of the school reflects their own culture. The students have empathy and integrity based on Jewish values. Being provided with firm grounding in Jewish knowledge and practice, together with a love of Israel, not only brightens the future of our children, but of the Jewish people as a whole in insuring our continuity.
Parents have the primary role as their children's teachers per Deuteronomy 6:6 (“You shall teach them diligently”), and Kedushin 29a. Happy are we in the Lehigh Valley that the Jewish Day School can so expertly assist with that responsibility. A JDS education combines Yiddishkeit with a first rate secular education in a diverse and menschlik environment.
And, if in this digital era, turning out the next generation of the People of the BOOK sounds old fashioned, relax. JDS has computers, an on-line presence and awareness of different learning styles. The JDS is committed to the inclusive community that our children come from and, in their turn, for which they will be responsible.
In the 1960s enrollment in Jewish day schools in the U.S. was less than 10 per cent of the Jewish school age population. Fifty years later that number rose to nearly one fourth of Jewish school age children. Why the growth? Certainly one important reason was size. While public school classrooms typically have an average of 20+ students, Jewish day school classrooms were smaller, affording teachers an opportunity to know and understand children better. A more important reason for the growth, however, was atmosphere.
Jane Roland Martin once described the schoolhome as a place that emphasizes the three Cs -- caring, concern, and connection -- instead of focusing exclusively on the three Rs of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Day schools excel in creating a caring, concerned environment in which families are connected in a community bound by Jewish values. The JDS has achieved excellence in secular and Jewish education. More importantly, though, it has served as a place that teaches children how to be menshen. That is something that books alone cannot accomplish. Being a mensh is a way of life, an orientation, best modeled in the schoolhome. The JDS best exemplifies the schoolhome.
...From the very start we felt a part of the JDS family. Our JDS embodies the very best of our Jewish values, celebrating kindness, respect for one another and the world around us, opening our children’s eyes to the blessings that surround us, and providing them the language to express these personal, communal, and timeless values. At the heart of a great education is not only learning history, Hebrew, math, Tefillah, English, TaNaKh, and science but seeing how they fit together in the cosmic dance of enlightenment and our thirst for knowledge. Our JDS has the tremendous advantage of focusing on the individual student, their needs, their strengths, and their interests. At the JDS, our students are in caring hands that challenge, model, and open their eyes to our world and beyond.
Since the publication of the Pew Research Forum’s study of Jewish Americans last year, our community has been preoccupied by the question of Jewish continuity. We’ve been forced to reassess what had been considered foregone conclusions about Judaism and the future of Jewish identity. One fact remains unchallenged, though: if we want our faith and our culture to endure, we must support our institutions of Jewish education to the best of our abilities.
Of course, I did not need a study to tell me about the value of community–based day school education. As a product of a day school education, I saw the ability of a small school to enrich an entire community. I learned to love the Jewish people, and developed a special affinity for Jewish ethics. I have witnessed our day school’s ability to instill a love of Jewish peoplehood and Torah in our young people. The hard work of its teachers, staff, and volunteers pays dividends; they are on the frontlines of the battle for the Jewish future.
One of the reasons I accepted the position of Cantor in Allentown was because it had a Jewish Day School. My husband and I were dedicated to a Jewish Day School education for our children. Besides the small classes, the individualized attention, Hebrew and Judaic studies, an excellent secular education, there was an emphasis on Jewish values.
It is very important to us that our children are menschlichkeit, that they consider our tradition when they make important life decisions. The Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley was an important influence in our children’s development, caring about those less fortunate than themselves and dedicated to tikkun olam and prepared to prepares students to lead a Jewish life dedicated to our tradition. Our Day School teaches values that help guide their students to a life well-lived.
In our very secularized society, oftentimes devoid of a moral compass, we look to our Day School to give our children purpose and to make Judaism exciting and relevant. I am happy to say that our community has a Day School that does just that.
I remember visiting Morris Gorfinkel, one of the JDS founders who reminisced about the trials and tribulations of establishing a community school that would serve all Jewish children from every stream and movement.
As an educator myself, I have always believed that a day school education that celebrates the diversity of the Jewish people is the best environment to secure a quality Jewish education. Today, JDS shines as an example of community cooperation. With all the issues that can present themselves in a community setting, the JDS leadership, students and families work everyday to overcome differences and rejoice and celebrate in our common Jewish roots. Walk the halls of JDS and you will hear singing in Hebrew, and the smiles of children learning in a joyous, loving environment that nurtures the Jewish soul.
There is no more significant aspect of Judaism than Jewish education. We read about our obligation to properly educate our children twice a day in the Shema when we say, “ושננתם לבניך – and teach them [the words of Torah] to your children.” We not only read this mantra, we wrap this mantra around our arms and our heads when we wear our tefillin and we post them on each of our doorposts when we affix the mezuzah. Hashem is telling His people that merely talking about the importance of Jewish education is insufficient; Jewish education must be literally on the forefront of our minds – through the head tefillin, the object of our toil – through the arm tefillin, and permeate every corner of our homes – through the mezuzah.