Israeli Chief Rabbi David Lau’s condemnation this week of Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett’s visit to the Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan was shortsighted and inaccurate in many ways (“A Ministerial Endorsement,” Dec. 11).
Most close to home for me, it denigrated the vital work we are doing at Schechter Manhattan to nurture positive Jewish identity in our students, the future leaders of the American Jewish community.
Rabbi Lau said that Bennett should not have visited us because, in his view, at Schechter Manhattan “the education distances Jews from tradition, from the past, and from the future of the Jewish people.” As Bennett experienced when he visited, this could not be further from the truth. Everything we do at Schechter Manhattan brings our students and their families closer to Jewish tradition and connects them to their shared heritage.
Celebrating Chanukah at Schechter Manhattan, the strength and depth of Jewish connections our students made was obvious. We started our days singing the ancient words of the Hallel prayer, joyously and proudly. We studied about the holiday in our classes. We came together with parents and friends for a beautiful zimriya (song festival) filled with Israeli favorites, connecting us to the culture and people of Israel.
As is clear from these examples, at Schechter Manhattan we live a vibrant Judaism that leads young people to develop integrated and strong Jewish identities.
Head of School
Solomon Schechter School of Manhattan