White Flight and Jewish Day Schools
Presented in partnership with the Race And Us Initiative at B’nai Jeshurun in New York.
The Jewish community takes great pride in its support of education as a value and a strategy. We tell ourselves a story of our commitment to education that is a manifestation both of our status as “People of the Book” and a way of making it in America. This is particularly true of the segment of the community that invests heavily in private Jewish schooling for its children. But the history of private schools for Jews in America is not only a history of loving learning and wanting to succeed in passing on our heritage while succeeding, period. It is also a story of race and class, of white flight and suburbanization, of dream-hoarding and sorting.
This lecture confronted some of the more challenging parts of that history—the stories we don’t tell—and ask questions about implications in the past and the present. We will also discuss some of the ways that the current COVID-19 crisis is highlighting race and class disparities in education systems, and the questions these disparities raise for Jews.