“A generation of young Jews, those who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, has been liberally exposed to literature, films and lectures about the Holocaust, and it is this generation which is choosing to marry out of Judaism at the rate of one in two. The reason is not hard to find. As one Holocaust historian, disturbed by the obsessive interest in the Shoah, put it: our children will learn about the Greeks and how they lived, the Romans and how they lived, and the Jews and how they died. Unlike traditional Jewish education, Holocaust education in itself offers no meaning, no hope, no way of life.”
“The fate of the Jews in the diaspora was, is and predictably will be, determined by their commitment to Jewish education.”
“About a year ago I received an invitation to lunch with the Prime Minister.. At the same time I received an invitation to take part in the opening ceremony of a new Jewish school in London. Both events were on the same day, at roughly the same time. I could not attend both. Which took precedence?... Governments sustain society, but education sustains the world. On that occasion I regretfully declined the Prime Minister’s invitation and opened the school.”
“To defend a land, you need an army. But to defend freedom, you need education. You need families and schools to ensure that your ideals are passed on to the next generation and never lost, or despaired of, or obscured. The citadels of liberty are houses of study. Its heroes are teachers, its passion is education and the life of the mind. Moses realized that a people achieves immortality not by building temples or mausoleums, but by engraving their values on the hearts of their children, and they on theirs, and so on until the end of time.”
“One of the most stunning gestures of Judaism was to overturn the whole idea of a hierarchy of knowledge, for if there are inequalities of learning, they will be replicated through all other social structures, giving some people unwarranted power over others. This is the great insight of the Jewish vision, from which all else followed: A free society must be an educated society, and a society of equal dignity must be one in which education is universal.”
“A free society - that precarious balance between the conflicting principles of liberty and order - exists not through the rule of law alone, but through a system of education that allows every individual to internalize the law and thus become its master, not its slave.”
“To defend a country, you need an army. But to defend an identity, you need a school. Judaism is the religion of the book, not the sword.”
“Education is the single greatest key to human dignity.”
“Education – the ability not merely to read and write but to master and apply information and have open access to knowledge – is essential to human dignity. I have suggested that it is the basis of a free society. Because knowledge is power, equal access to knowledge is a precondition of equal access to power.”
“Throughout the centuries, when the cast majority of Europe was illiterate, Jews maintained an educational infrastructure as their highest priority. It is no exaggeration to say that this lay at the heart of the Jewish ability to survive catastrophe, negotiate change and flourish in difficult circumstances.”
“Jewry is one of the paradigm cases of a group that predicated the idea of a society of equal human dignity not on the distribution of wealth or power but on access to education; and it worked.”
“To defend a land you need an army, but to defend freedom you need education. You need parents, families and homes and a constant conversation between the generations. Above all you need memory – the kind of memory that never forgets the bread of affliction and the bitter herbs of slavery.”
“To defend a country, you need an army. But to defend humanity, you need education.”
“Long ago the Jewish people came to the conclusion that to defend a country you need an army. But to defend a civilization you need schools. The single most important social institution is the place where we hand on our values to the next generation – where we tell our children where we’ve come from, what ideals we fought for, and what we learned on the way. Schools are where we make children our partners in the long and open-ended task of making a more gracious world.”
“Teachers open our eyes to the world. They give us curiosity and confidence. They teach us to ask questions. They connect us to our past and future. They’re the guardians of our social heritage. We have lots of heroes today – sportsmen, supermodels, media personalities. They come, they have their fifteen minutes of fame, and they go. But the influence of good teachers stays with us. They are the people who really shape our life.”
“Why, generally, have faith schools become so popular in a profoundly secular society? One can only speculate. But the following might reflect the thoughts of many traditionally minded parents. The wider society is no longer congruent with our values. We do not want our children taught by fashionable methods that leave them bereft of knowledge and skills. We do not want them to have self-esteem at the cost of self-respect, won by hard work and genuine achievement. We do not want them to be taught that every difference of behaviour reflects an equally valid lifestyle. We do not want them to be moral relativists, tourists in all cultures, at home in none. We do not want to take the risk of our children taking drugs or alcohol or becoming sexually promiscuous, still less becoming teenage mothers (or fathers). Many parents do not want there to be a massive gap between their children’s values and their own. They do not want moral values undermined by a secular, sceptical, cynical culture. Nor do they believe that the countervailing influences of place of worship, supplementary schooling and home will be enough. For the values of the wider secular culture are not confined to school. They are present in the every-more-intrusive media of television, the internet, YouTube, MySpace, and the icons of popular culture.”
“The invention of the alphabet was the birth of the possibility of universal literacy and the beginning of the end of hierarchical societies.”