credit: Mike D'Angelo
How can we get our own students to love us the way their friends do?
This past Purim, students were asked to bring friends to school to share in the festivities. Out of over 200 students, only one brought his friends because he wanted them to experience a fun holiday like Purim. As it happened, his friends weren’t Jewish. As it also happened, they had a great time. They loved being in a ‘unique, challenging, fun and educational place’ !
In a recent small focus group at the school, we were trying to get to know students a bit better, and what makes them decide to attend. We asked them why, if they enjoy attending so much (satisfaction rates are above 90%), they don’t bring their friends. They basically said that ‘unless cookies were falling from the sky’ they wouldn’t ask their friends to come. Oh, and they also asked if we were kidding: didn’t we realize that since they were attending on a Sunday morning their friends already think they’re crazy and that they wouldn’t be caught dead asking their friends to wake up early to join them?
So, I’m trying to put this together with a recent news item by Rabbi Justus N. Baird in the Religion section of the Huffington Post . He reports on several studies (one of which was a decade’s worth by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life), which show these same results: that American attitudes toward Jews are as positive — or even a few degrees warmer — as attitudes toward Catholics, and significantly higher than toward any other religious group (the Pew data does not ask about attitudes toward Protestants).
Even the Anti-Defamation League had similar responses to the surveys they conducted. So, this should make us feel very good, very secure, and surely steady enough on our feet to hear the term Pro-Semitism without falling over.
Love from our students? I think we get that, it’s just that they won’t tell anyone else about that….except maybe their non-Jewish friends.