I have been reading your articles about the new synagogues starting in mid-Long Island (“The Long Island Synagogue Wars, Aug. 25, Sept. 6, Sept. 13). As the rabbi of The Chai Center in Dix Hills I have some thoughts of my own to share.
Much of the focus has been simply on whether the rabbis of these new upstart houses of worship and Hebrew schools are doing the right thing or not. However, I would like to address the parents of the Hebrew school students. It is my professional opinion that you, the parents, are selling your children short by sending them to a one-day-a-week Hebrew school.
By sending your child to Hebrew school once a week, you are sending your child a not-so-subtle message that Hebrew school is not that important and only a means to an end — the almighty bar mitzvah. Just as you would not want your future child’s knowledge of arithmetic to be on a third-grade level, so too, you should not want your child’s Jewish knowledge to remain on an elementary level either. Proficiency in a sport or a musical instrument takes time and practice, and so does proficiency in Judaism.
Final thought: I have no problem with competition. I just do not like to see my fellow rabbinical colleagues do the wrong thing for these children, because at the end of the day its not about these displaced rabbis who need a parnassah (income). It’s all about the children who will need to shine the torch of Judaism into the next generation. Will they be able to?
Chai Center Dix Hills, L.I.