Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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I read with interest Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot’s article responding to the earlier “School Calendar Wars” piece (“Shorter School Days and the Jewish Day School Calendar,” February 8, 2018). As someone who grew up in the UK and Israel, especially since becoming a parent of school-age children, I have felt, often with some level of despair, that the length of the summer vacation does our children, and by extension almost everyone else, a tremendous disservice. The UK summer holiday is six weeks and the Israeli one always starts on July 1 and ends August 1, yet in the US we have a period that often exceeds 11 weeks. The “summer slide” that is prevalent across the country is then compounded by the Jewish calendar where, depending on how the chagim fall, often truncates four of the initial critical weeks of the school year. As such, I view any recommendation to address this issue to be worthy of serious consideration. I fear, however, that the vested competing interests including, but not limited to, the multi-million dollar summer camp industry, would make this a serious challenge. Given the ultimate educational goals, it is a discussion we should all be committed to having.

Daniel Schlosberg