By Adam Freed P’22, ’24
As a couple, we are very lucky. We have similar tastes, are driven by the same values, and generally agree on most issues. That’s why making a choice about our sons’ education came as such a surprise.
I’m a proud product of public school (admittedly in suburban Maryland) and a fervent supporter of public education. My wife Dara went to a modern Orthodox Jewish day school in Manhattan and wanted our sons to have the same grounding in Jewish culture and knowledge that she had growing up. We danced around this issue when we first started dating, got married, and even when Theo and Baxter were born. Registering them for school forced the conversion.
Choosing a school for our sons seemed like a monumental decision in and of itself, without the question of a religious versus secular education being thrown into the mix. The Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton after all. What type of academics did we want? What were the pros and cons of different pedagogies? Did we want a K-12 school? How important were sports for our boys? Countless choices needed to be considered and made. On top of that, we needed to talk about our different experiences and expectations for school.
Growing up in an extremely reform Jewish home, I was nervous about sending our boys to any kind of religious school. I also valued the diversity of students and their backgrounds that I was exposed to in public school. Dara wanted to ensure that our boys had a deep and sincere understanding of our Jewish heritage and a love for the traditions she grew up with. She feared that they would not get that from Sunday school alone.
After many conversations and after visiting another Jewish day school, it turned out that our decision to send our sons to Rodeph Sholom School wasn’t about compromise, but about community. We were both blown away by the warm and welcoming atmosphere we experienced when we visited RSS, as well as the school’s focus on building a community among the students, staff, and parents who make up the school. Dara loved the integration of Jewish studies and values and Hebrew in the classroom. I loved that one administrator described their job as ensuring students graduated as mensches. Rodeph Sholom School would instill the values, knowledge, traditions, love of learning and commitment to community that we were both seeking.
Five years later, we continue to count ourselves as very lucky. We still have similar tastes, share the same values, and agree on most things – including our choice of RSS for Theo and Baxter.