The Changing Jewish Educational Landscape
Has Torah High Adapted
to the new Reality?
By Miriam Perl
Having kids in Toronto is an expensive undertaking. Raising them Jewish makes it even more so! Tuition prices in Jewish schools have skyrocketed over the last 10 years, and with the rising cost of living, full-day Jewish education has become something that many Toronto parents simply can’t afford. Like it or not, the landscape of Jewish education is changing, and Torah High is changing right along with it.
While full-day education may be the gold standard, there are many who have made the difficult decision that this isn’t a viable option. Torah High may be the answer in providing your teen with a strong Jewish foundation.
Here are 5 reasons why:
Small Class Sizes
Small class sizes has been shown by numerous studies to result in better educational outcomes.
Small class sizes are correlated with students getting better grades and enjoying improved self confidence. Students have greater opportunity to voice their opinions in smaller classes, and teachers are able to spend more quality time with each student. One of the greatest advantages to small class sizes, however, is how it enhances students’ social and emotional development. Students in small classes form tight knit bonds with each other, allowing for a unique community around shared experiences to develop.
Teens at Torah High discover together what it means to embrace their Jewish identity through shared experiences and discussions. Torah High teens meet other teens from high school campuses across the city and often stay in touch with them outside of the classroom. These social advantages translate to better outcomes when our teens go off to university, as they are better prepared to navigate the difficulties of university life where they can often feel alienated and alone.
Torah High is more than classroom education. Our programs build in many opportunities for experiential education, such as field trips and coordinated programming with NCSY Canada. Our students attend NCSY Shabbatons, holiday programs, and are provided with financial incentives to attend NCSY’s flagship summer Israel program, called TJJ (The Jerusalem Journey). These out-of-classroom experiences offer a rich storehouse of opportunities to enhance our students’ social-emotional development, making Torah High a truly unique educational experience.
Integrated, Holistic Education
Torah High’s curriculum is unique in its integrative, holistic approach. Where most Jewish educational systems offer courses in Jewish and general studies in separate tracts, Torah High integrates Jewish thought and ideas in its general studies courses, such as Business, English, Food and Culture, Leadership, and Philosophy.
For example, its business class will highlight Jewish ethics that govern business practices. Its English classes will examine anti-semitism and Jewish identity through Shakespeare’s Marchant of Venice and Elie Wiesel’s Night. Its philosophy class will study both Aristotle and Maimonides; both Plato and Baruch Spinoza.
Torah High makes clear that we are not different identities, Jewish and Canadian, that find expression through the study of curriculum that artificially filters identity though one lens or the other. By fusing Jewish ideas in its secular courses, our students discover identity that is harmonized, relevant, stabilizing, and meaningful.
Affordable Jewish Education
Torah High offers Jewish education affordably… this is groundbreaking at at time when Jewish education is out of reach for many working families. Torah High believes that providing your child with a Jewish education shouldn’t be the prerogative of the rich. Because Torah High is highly subsidized, we offer our courses at four different price tiers that allow families to “pay what they can for Jewish education.”
Most importantly, cost should not be a barrier to providing your child with a Jewish education considering its vital and critical importance to ensuring engagement with Jewish life and, ultimately, continuity. As the 2018 Survey of Jews in Canada reported, “a key component of continuity is the prevalence of Jewish education, with most Jews in Canada having participated in one or more types of Jewish education when growing up.”
Clearly, there are many reasons not to forgo Jewish education. We owe it to our children to give them the best chance in life to form stable identities around their Jewish heritage so that their children will continue to be a link in the story of the Jewish people.