Education is closely linked to culture and identity, and the goal of education is to plant Jewish values. Religious education is a part of any educational process, irrespective of whether it happens in family or school settings. A tool of religious education is studying Torah, and the Jews believe that this process is a lifelong one. Therefore, Jewish communities were among the first to champion the idea of continuing education. In terms of Jewish education, it makes sense to speak of formal and informal education.
As concerns formal schooling, Jewish education programs can take one of the following forms: full-time, part-time, Sunday-only (one-day only), or tutor (Goldstein & Fishman, 1993). Primary school is usually attended by children older than the age of 6 or 7; before that, they are educated at home. Sometimes children before the age of 6 or 7 attend Sunday school or engage in various forms of informal education. Informal education encompasses such techniques as youth group, camp experience, or drama clubs.
Jewish children often manifest strong desire to learn and impressive academic achievement. This is one of the reasons why Jews are likely to pursue higher education. This can be explained by the fact that education has been historically perceived as an important value: At the turn of the last century, Jewish immigrants to the United States and elsewhere carried on the tradition of education. Barely able to make a living, they continued their educations, fought the anti-Semitic stance of University admission committees and sent their children to university (Winston, 2006, p. 1).
It is interesting to note that Jewish education in the 20th century has put a significant emphasis on gender equality in education. Throughout the 19th century, Jewish girls were educated at home and rarely attended public education facilities. The turnaround was made possible by the institution of girls schools at the beginning of the previous century. At present, there are virtually no gender disparities in the level of enrollment in education.
Another interesting factor is that children and adolescents realize the value of education from early teens and without external pressure. A study (Seginer & Vermulst, 2002) indicated that such issues as family background as well as perceived parental support and demandingness do not directly affect the level of educational achievement among Jewish youngsters, while this factor is regarded as the key for academic success in other communities. Now it is high time to discuss Haredi education.
Under the Haredi education law, local authorities should provide equal amount of funding for state schools and non-state schools: The government approved Sunday my proposal to advance an amendment to the national education law that would obligate local authorities to play a part in funding schools defined as recognized but unofficial in an equal manner and in accordance with the schools ability to meet the terms and rules set by the Education Ministry (Beilin & Nahari, 2007, para. 1).
While the law has come in foe excessive criticism, there are some good points in it. First of all, this law acknowledges the importance of different methods of education, both formal and informal, or, in this specific case, both state and non-state. If it is quality education that raises children in the spirit of Jewish values, there is no difference in who provides it. Yet formal education is still paid more attention under this law: The bill has the power to create equality between students in the official education system to those in the recognized system.
However, there would still be preference given to students in the former system, which will enjoy full funding both from the Education Ministry and local authorities, compared to their counterparts from the recognized but unofficial world who will continue to enjoy partial funding only (Beilin & Nahari, 2007, para. 7). Summing up, it is possible to conclude that education has played a significant role in the Jewish culture. Unique combination of formal and informal as well as state and non-state education providers gives the youth an opportunity to develop their skills and abilities together with learning Jewish values and culture.