State Sen. Daylin Leach at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy

Join us for a community conversation with State Sen. Daylin Leach to discuss issues of great importance to day school families, including day school scholarships, safety and school resources. Don’t miss this special opportunity to personally meet with Sen. Leach, whose district includes Barrack and the Perelman Jewish Day School Stern Center. Be part of the conversation, and let your voice be heard!

Please RSVP to Michael Litchman, (610) 922-2335.

Exploring the Jewish Connection to Gratitude

In honor of Thanksgiving, Perelman Jewish Day School’s Rabbi Chaim Galfand offers a snippet of wisdom on the concept of gratitude. In this brief video, he takes us back to the Hebrew matriarch Leah, while framing gratitude as a matter of perspective.

Torah Trivia Tuesday- Thanksgiving (11.21.17) from Perelman Jewish Day School on Vimeo.

Perelman Jewish Day School Celebrates 60

By Shira Wohlberg

On Wednesday May 24, Perelman Jewish Day School held its Tribute Event, celebrating 60 years of educating the minds and souls of thousands of children in the greater Philadelphia area. Over 400 members of the community – parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty and friends – gathered at Har Zion Temple, where the school began, to celebrate this remarkable milestone. Attendees honored the legacy of Judy and David Wachs, their parents, founders Fannie and Abe Birenbaum, and their family, and paid tribute to Past Presidents.

[Read more…]

Jewish Heritage Night at the Sixers with Perelman Jewish Day School

Come watch the Sixers play the Brooklyn Nets. The tickets will include a range of special perks:

  • Pregame access to watch the Sixers warm up
  • Opportunity to high-five players on the court
  • Custom Sixers Jewish Heritage Night t-shirt
  • Sixers drawstring backpack

The kosher stand will be open the entire night, and various Jewish organizations and performance groups will be showcased throughout the game.

Purchase discounted tickets here by 11:59 on December 17.

For more information, contact Stacy Seltzer, 610-658-2518, x208.

A View from the Inside — America’s Future

This program is the first of Perelman Jewish Day School’s 60th Anniversary Speaker Series. Each of the speakers in this series is a distinguished Perelman alumnus. In this program, the speaker is Sara Aronchick Solow ’95, a domestic policy advisor for Secretary Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and a member of the presidential debate preparation team. Sara worked on President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012 and his 2008 campaign for president. She has also served as a white collar and appellate litigation associate at the law firm of Latham & Watkins. Finally, she was a law clerk for Justice Stephen G. Breyer of the United States Supreme Court, for Judge Anthony Scirica of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit and for Judge Michael Baylson of the United States Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Click here to register for this program.

Introducing Jr. Kindergarten at Perelman Open House

Next year, Perelman Jewish Day School’s Stern Center Campus will offer the only Hebrew-immersive junior kindergarten in the Philadelphia area. We are now enrolling students ages 4 and 5 for Fall 2017. For information on this new program, please join us for an open house in the Stern Center Sukkah.

The Jr. Kindergarten at Perelman will be an incubator for learning and play. In a closely knit, caring setting, students will be immersed in a bilingual environment at an age when they are most receptive, easing the acquisition of additional languages in the future. Judaism will be the lens through which they develop social skills as well as appreciation and gratitude for our daily gifts.

Perelman’s constructive approach — combining learning through exploration and experimentation, along with the cultivation of independence, resilience, and confidence at each child’s pace — will be the cornerstone of the Jr. Kindergarten philosophy.

Students will enjoy access to our outstanding facilities — the full-sized gym, magnificent library, creative Landau Family Makerspace, as well as to Perelman’s outstanding educational specialists.

Our certified Jr. Kindergarten teachers will partner with the elementary school faculty to create integrated programs, such as reading buddies and special holiday celebrations.

The program is full-day, with before/after-care available.

To learn more, contact:

Mindy Andelman
Associate Director of Admission
610-658-2518, ext. 207
[email protected]

Drexel Can Build It, But Will Jews Come?

In the film Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella is inspired by voices and surprisingly is able to attract a crowd to a baseball field he built in his Iowa cornfield. Similarly, while Drexel’s Jewish community is dwarfed by that of its neighbor and rival, the University of Pennsylvania, hopes to compete for bright Jewish students by building the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life. “Our goal at Drexel is to make the University a greater school of choice for Jewish students from our region and across the nation,” said Drexel President John Fry.

The Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life at Drexel University

The Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life at Drexel University

This three-story, 14,000-square-foot facility is well in excess of the needs of Drexel’s current Jewish community.

A Tale of Two Hillels Hillel at Drexel University University of Pennsylvania Hillel
National Rank #25 #7
Jewish Undergraduates 900 / 16,616
2,500 / 9,712
Jewish Studies 5 classes offered.
Minor available
50 classes offered.
Minor and major offered.

However, what is Drexel doing to attract the Jewish students they need to fill it?

Over the last year Israel has been removed from Drexel’s list of recommended countries for international students and internships, and Drexel students and faculty must seek special permission to study or work in Israel.

However, a new, more troubling controversy has recently arisen.

Drexel Hillel Rabbi Isabel de Koninck (Left), with Noam Chomsky (center) and Drexel President John A. Fry (2nd from Right) Photo Credit: Facebook

Drexel Hillel Rabbi Isabel de Koninck (Left), with Noam Chomsky (center) and Drexel President John A. Fry (2nd from Right). Photo Credit: Facebook.

Most of Drexel’s Jewish community members were surprised to learn that Noam Chomsky was among the people to be given an honorary degree at the University’s commencement ceremony earlier this month.

The inclusion of “Noam Chomsky: Professor emeritus at MIT, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician and political commentator” on the list of laureats on Drexel’s website escaped the attention of many when it was uploaded on April 20.

However late in coming, the Jewish community is beginning to react. Lori Lowenthal Marcus recalled in The Jewish Press that “Chomsky is one of the best known and most outspoken American critics of Israel”:

He has called the Jewish State such a consistent and extreme violator of human rights “that you hardly have to argue about it.” For that reason, he claims, U.S. military aid to Israel is in direct violation of U.S. Law. At least Chomsky rejects (sometimes) the claim that Israel is an Apartheid state. But that’s because he thinks Apartheid is too gentle a term for Israel’s treatment of Palestinian Arabs.

“To call it apartheid is a gift to Israel, at least if by ‘apartheid’ you mean South African-style apartheid. What’s happening in the Occupied Territories is much worse.”

Perhaps a case could be made for the Department of Computer Science to honor Chomsky for his technical contributions to their field, but her mention is specifically made of Chomsky’s “political commentary”. In the Jewish Exponent, Prof. Abraham H. Miller pointed out that this “political commentary” is wedded to bizarre:

Chomsky seemed to be wedded to ideas of moral equivalence, which the steel trap of his syllogisms ensnared America with some of the most brutal regimes to ever desecrate the meaning of human decency.

Chomsky saw a moral equivalence between the genocidal, fanatical regime of Pol Pot and the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. To Chomsky, America was to be indicted for selective outrage at Pol Pot but not at Indonesia, which was an ally….

When the tragedy of 9/11 fell upon America, and while the nation was still consumed with shock and grief, Chomsky once again found a lesson for America in moral equivalence. Ever playing the role of the dispassionate intellectual, Chomsky made a frigid comparison of 9/11 to President Bill Clinton’s cynical bombing of a civilian pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum in August 1988.

Marcus quoted one former Hillel member who took Drexel Hillel’s Rabbi Isabel de Koninck to task for appearing on stage with Chomsky:

It is a bit disturbing that a figurehead of the Jewish community would allow herself to be next to him, and I wouldn’t be surprised if some students felt alienated and more hesitant to be involved in the organization after seeing such a photo.

The Rabbi declined to comment on this controversy. However, Drexel President John Fry defended Chomsky’s actions:

I believe Drexel’s decision to award him a degree was justified. Chomsky was among 15 people honored by Drexel at this year’s commencement ceremonies. The decision to include him among this group is consistent with academia’s tradition of recognizing those from a wide variety of fields — with a broad spectrum of perspectives — who have made significant contributions to education, business, science, and civic and cultural institutions. The awarding of honorary degrees does not in any way indicate endorsement of a recipient’s opinions.

As a scientist, Chomsky’s work is at the forefront of his discipline, and he is often described as the “father of modern linguistics.” As a political philosopher and activist, he is widely read and debated, especially with regard to U.S. and Israeli foreign policy.

Furthermore, Fry vaunted his support of The Raymond G. Perelman Center for Jewish Life at Drexel University. However, if Drexel is seen as lending its support to those who slander Israel, then will the needed Jewish students come, or will this beautiful new facility sadly become a reminder of the vibrant Jewish community which Drexel could have had?

Are Perelman Teachers Against Religious Freedom?

church_and_state_montage2[1]The American Federation of Teachers is taking its battle with the Perelman Jewish Day School board to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in Washington, D.C.

Last summer, the school board announced that it would no longer deal with the long-standing teachers union. No specific reasons were given for the action. The board required the teachers to sign up under individual contracts, or lose their jobs.

The case is surprising in several ways:

First, the act of a Jewish institution deals with terminating union representation of its employees unilaterally. Others have written about what Jewish law requires of every employer, including a Jewish educational institution: to treat its employees with fairness and respect, and to bargain with their agent. The Perelman Board action came without any specifics as to why dealing with the union had become burdensome or impractical.

The second surprise is that the NLRB local region has dismissed the case. The action of the NLRB region reflects a centuries-old legal doctrine, the “ministerial exception.”

Under the First Amendment to the Constitution, in order to protect freedom of religion and the independence of religious institutions, courts have decided to abstain from ruling on certain matters involving bodies such as churches and synagogues. The earliest cases 200 years ago involved disputes over church ownership of property.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s first enunciation of the rule was in a case in 1872 called Watson v. Jones, in which a synod of the Presbyterian Church fought a dissident group over ownership of church property. The Supreme Court decided that the church itself would determine the facts and apply church law. The civil courts would not interfere but will accept (and if necessary enforce) that determination.

The third surprise is the breadth that the ministerial exception has achieved through judicial decisions over the years. The original rule developed to include control over the hiring, firing and conduct of ministers. Then it gradually expanded to include all church and synagogue employees who have a religious function (even if they are not technically ministers). Workers sometimes looked to unionization for protection.

However, in a case in 1979, NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, the Supreme Court extended the ministerial exception to teachers employed by the Church in Catholic schools, whether or not their primary role was to teach religion. The Court ruled that NLRB protections are not available to them.

The expansion of the ministerial exception does not work equally well in every circumstance, though. The Presbyterian Church, the Catholic Church and most other large religious sects have internal procedures to address disputes between clergy, laity and the church itself. These internal procedures usually include a fact-finding body and an appeal to a higher authority to review a case.

The decision may be made on the basis of church law, which can be quite different from civil law. Yet the rights of the individual or schismatic group are addressed by formal process.

The Perelman Jewish Day School is not that kind of religious body. It is an educational institution, not a church or synagogue. It is not part of an hierarchical system of oversight. The case of the Perelman board has no process parallel to religious adjudication.

In different parts of the world at different times, the Jewish shtetl had formal structures to resolve disputes, authorized by civil authority. But today, although Jews have the Bet Din, its jurisdiction extends only to those who voluntarily submit to it. The ministerial exception leaves the teachers unprotected.

Furthermore, would an obligation to negotiate with a union actually threaten the freedom to practice and teach the Jewish religion?

The decision in Catholic Bishops of Chicago chose not to consider the possibility of a limited duty to negotiate in good faith, side-by-side with the ministerial exception as to religious matters.

Surely the Perelman board should not have to negotiate tenets of Conservative Judaism such as whether non-kosher food will be consumed on the premises, how the school will teach and practice Shabbat, or what religious holidays will be observed. But negotiating pay and working hours, for example, should not violate any known religious principle, considering that Perelman negotiated with the union for decades.

An NLRB determination on complaint as to whether the Perelman board or the union negotiated in good faith would seem quite achievable, without invading either party’s freedom of religion. The Federation of Teachers may find other legal theories than a frontal attack on the ministerial exception. Or they may argue that some rights of workers can be protected without threatening the integrity of religious employers.

Perelman School Launches New Tuition Affordability Program

— by Mindy Andelman and Linda Grife

The Perelman Jewish Day School has launched a new tuition affordability program and expanded Cozen Scholars Program effective for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Students who do not qualify for the traditional tuition assistance program may be eligible for this new Affordability Program, which offers:

  • Tuition grants for adjusted gross incomes (AGI) from $150,000-$350,000 for new and existing families.
  • Grants based on AGI and number of children enrolled in the school.

More after the jump.
For those who qualify, grant will be in effect every year that children are enrolled in the school, thereby making it easier to plan for future tuition costs.

There is no current deadline for new families to apply. The applications are confidential.

Those who are interested can download the application form.