Rabbi Elchanan Poupko
Rabbi Elchanan Poupkoצילום: PR

At this moment, numerous Jewish students in the New York area have been locked out of high school admissions. Despite Jewish High Schools having given answers to applicants, there are students who applied to multiple high schools just to be rejected by all. As one principal told me: "With a limited amount of spots, why would I not take in only the students I can best attend to?"

Makes sense. With a limited amount of spots, why not take in only the most homogenous group of kids from the most identical types of homes that will make your life as easy as possible? Do you know who has not taken that approach? Florida Jewish Day Schools.

With the massive influx of Jews moving to Florida from New York, South America, Europe, and other places, Florida day school infrastructure has been experiencing exponential growth like never before. Classes are doubling, students are moving in the middle of the year, and families are asking to have multiple children taken in sometimes in the middle of the year. Somehow, despite this astonishing influx, Florida schools have been able to cope in a highly admirable way.

New classes have been opened; teachers have been recruited and higher; philanthropists have stepped up support; the government has been lobbied to make sure schools can keep taking kids in, and never have I heard of a case of a child being left out of school when moving to Florida. Schools have not been looking over their shoulder to ensure they can keep an image of exclusivity, and no child has been sacrificed on the altar of an image of lucrative education.

It is time this model inspires schools around the country as well. Too many stories of children in New York, New Jersey, Toronto, and other Jewish communities tell us the tale of heartbroken families and humiliated children being added to waitlists, needing to pressure schools to take in their children, and community leaders turning a blind eye to the blood of our brothers and sisters being spilled as they pursue the simple quest of attending a Jewish day school.

It is time for all of us to look at what Jewish Day Schools in Florida have been doing since 2020 and ensure every Jewish community implements an uncompromising policy of no child left behind and a Jewish education for all.

Rabbi Elchanan Poupko is an eleventh-generation rabbi, teacher, and author. He has written Sacred Days on the Jewish Holidays, Poupko on the Parsha, and hundreds of articles published in five languages. He is a member of the executive committee of the Rabbinical Council of America.