Just Jew It!

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“Games, projects, songs and sometimes relay races,” makes Maryland-based JEWEL Hebrew School appear to be similar to its peers. However, as Gazette.net explains, JEWEL is no ordinary Hebrew School:

Unlike many Sunday school programs, JEWEL is unaffiliated with a particular synagogue, which encourages more involvement. (MORE)

A non-denominational, unaffiliated Jewish education program that incorporates games and singing seems like a healthy learning environment for all Jewish children. Perhaps the unfettered environment at JEWEL is more conducive to Jewish learning?

But wait, there’s more! JEWEL has a “highly effective” and innovative program to get its students excited about Judaism called “Just Jew It!”

Through it, students accumulate points for good behavior, such as cleaning their bedrooms, as well as celebrating Jewish traditions, like helping set the table for Shabbat. Students with enough points earn a trip to Six Flags amusement park. (MORE)

I wonder, does this system encourage students to continue to live an active Jewish life after Six Flags is no longer the goal? While instilling Jewish values in children on a regular basis at a young age is important, students might be disappointed when they stop receiving rewards for being Jewish. Maybe the focus should be on the inherent rewards in being a practicing Jew?

I’m all for innovative ideas and experimental education, but bribery has been around for thousands of years and Judaism expressly forbids it: “And thou shalt take no bribe; for a gift blinds them that have sight, and perverts the words of the righteous.” (Exodus 23:8)

(Matt Ring is the summer intern at MyJewishLearning.com)

Posted on July 11, 2007

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