Census finds partial rebound in Jewish education

Attendance rose 8% from last year at Jewish schools in the Milwaukee area, reflecting a partial rebound from the start of the pandemic.

“This year’s census shows growth, despite the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Tzipi Altman-Shafer, community planner for Jewish education. “The numbers have increased from last year, but I expect this year’s numbers to be still out of the ordinary and will rise again next year.”

The census was conducted by the Coalition for Jewish Learning, the education department of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation which Altman-Shafer leads. The census is based on responses from local schools.

The number of children enrolled in Jewish schools in the Milwaukee area fell from 1,377 to 1,502. This is even lower than in 2019, when there were 1,678 students.

Analysis of these figures is limited because we do not know the total number of Jewish school-age children, Altman-Shafer said. Additionally, the numbers could change as more families choose to return to school during the school year.

“The increase in attendance, but the failure to return to pre-pandemic numbers, could be attributed to several factors, but this year we believe most of the changes are due to families returning slowly during the pandemic. “, says Altman-Shafer.

Highlights of the census include:

Preschool enrollment

There has been an overall increase of 43% in the six Jewish preschools, from 279 last year to 400 this year. The big jump is due to the fact that fears of COVID-19 previously depressed inscription, Altman-Shafer said. Also, pParents more often worked from home or were unemployed, so they did not need child care.

In 2019, there were 492 students.

Daytime school population

The six Jewish day schools saw almost no change in enrollment numbers, from 692 last year to 695 this year. Just like last year, there are considerable variations between schools, but overall schools have increased by a few students, said Altman-Shafer.

This is the highest day school enrollment rate since 2007-2008. Of the day school children, 376 received Wisconsin state bond funding. There are a total of 436 families with children in day schools this year, up from 417 families last year.

Some parents moved their children to day schools during the pandemic, seeking an alternative to public schools which were in some cases more likely to remain physically closed.

“Most of the families who transferred their children to day schools during the pandemic kept them there this year. It is a success for our schools. Altman-Shafer noted.

Enrollment in religious school

There are 8 religious schools affiliated with synagogues in the Milwaukee area. There was a 4% increase in enrollment in religious schools, from 370 to 388.

“Many families still have not returned to religious school after the pandemic. It remains to be seen how many of these families will return in the years to come , Altman-Shafer noted.

“Milwaukee can be proud of our education and engagement programs,” she said. “There are hundreds of adolescents involved in youth groups and young families engaged through the PJ library, for example. “

Children at the Mequon Jewish Kindergarten, which was part of the annual census.


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