Canberra plans its first Jewish dayschool

May 26, 2018 by Henry Benjamin
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Its first Jewish day school is on the cards for Canberra with Chabad ACT applying for its registration.

Rabbi Shmueli and Chasia Feldman

The school will cater for children up to Year Three.

Behind the plans are Rabbi Shmueli Feldman and Rebbetzin Chasia Feldman.

Rabbi Feldman told J-Wire that he believes the cost of housing in Melbourne and Sydney may drive young families to seek an alternative and more affordable city in which to build future.

He said: “It’s been a dream we’ve shared since we moved to Canberra from Sydney in 2013. For Judaism to thrive anywhere it is paramount that there is a focus on children and their education.

The assimilation in Canberra is high. There are many children who go through secular schooling who become young adults with very little knowledge of Judaism. It’s happening all around the world but is especially so in Canberra where there is no Jewish school.

So, when we first came to Canberra we started off by establishing a pre-school. The plan is that the children will complete their pre-school education and will be able to continue their education by attending a Jewish school.”

Rabbi Feldman said that the plan was not to service only Canberra but the whole region explaining that the pre-school has pupils who come from outside the capital.

Mentioning that there are believed 1500 Jews in Canberra he continued: “Canberra has an ever-changing transient Jewish population given that it is the seat of government. There is for example the Israeli embassy is expecting a religious person to join their staff next month. They have pre-school children and the existence of a Jewish educational facility in Canberra is important in their plans.”

He said that some families are aware of the importance of Jewish education because “it is the basis for children developing Jewish values which will keep our heritage and faith alive.”

Chabad ACT has leased a building next to their existing pre-school which can cater for 40 students.

There are plans to bring a Hebrew studies teacher to Canberra from either Melbourne or Sydney and using local teachers for secular studies.

Rabbi Feldman said he had no negative feedback from the Canberra Jewish community and some families have expressed their interest in sending their children to the hoped for school.

He said that he was planning an open meeting for the community and would welcome any new ideas and their input.

Many Jewish children in Canberra go to Anglican or Catholic schools according to Rabbi Feldman and he says that parents do care about the students having to attend scripture lessons.

If he gets government help to fast track the application, Rabbi Feldman plans to open the new school in early 2019. But it could take until 2020.

For the Feldmans their┬ádream may soon be a reality. As Rabbi Feldman told J-Wire: “We have seen families leave Canberra to go Melbourne or Sydney where their children can receive a Jewish and secular education in the one school. Hopefully, our new school will be able to keep them here. With houses costing three times more in Sydney and Melbourne than they cost in Canberra we may well see more Jewish families coming here.”


One Response to “Canberra plans its first Jewish dayschool”
  1. Lynne Newington says:

    Yes instruction at the knee can only go so far and parents do care about the students having to attend scripture lessons and rightly so especially in today’s climate Interfaith or not.
    It would also bring back memories for some generations ago.
    Give me a child ’til they’re seven is a hard yardstick.

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