As did Ilana Kantey (May 8), I grew up in Teaneck, attended public schools with Hebrew school daily in the afternoons, and found that the experience of being with other ethnic and religious groups was beneficial.
My older children, as well, attended Teaneck’s public schools, and truly had a positive feeling as to learning to know children of other cultures, visiting their families, and having friends of all kinds.
When Teaneck started the system of busing, the Orthodox families withdrew their children from public school, and one yeshiva after another was built. Fees apparently were no object, but what had been segregation in Teaneck re-started with this movement of Jewish children out of the public arena. Now, we have the worse misfortune of Jewish children as a group being separated by which schools they attend, which synagogues they belong to, and their different observance levels. In the bigger picture, we are separating even further the black, white, Asian, and Hispanic children from their Jewish neighbors in a what was once a model community.
This is not the “Mosaic” community that is boasted of. We have a line down the middle, separating many of the children because of color and religious belief. I have no sympathy for the complaints of Orthodox parents that the costs to educate their children in yeshivot are too high. It is a pretentious decision to bring exclusivity to one group.
It would be a tremendous boon to Teaneck to have all of its children educated in the public schools and bring back the glory that was Teaneck in the earlier days of integration and the superior national ratings that Teaneck’s public schools achieved at that time. There is always the synagogue and home for instilling our Jewish values and learning in our children. It did not make any of us less Jewish to attend public schools or less educated in the long run and the bigger picture.