Wanted: A Few Good Teachers

A parent in North Hollywood is appalled by what passes for religious-school education: His child has a terrible teacher. A parent in Brentwood is ecstatic: Her child’s current teacher is outstanding. Marcy Goldberg, director of education at Temple Aliyah of Woodland Hills, sums up the obvious fact about religious schools: For children and their parents, a school is “only as good as the teacher they have that year.”

This truism, of course, applies to schools of every sort. But religious schools, which typically offer their classes on weelend afternoons, following students’ regular school day, face a particular dilemma: a shortage of trained, experienced and knowledgeable teachers of Judaica.

According to statistics from the Bureau of Jewish Education, 13,500 students attend some 64 religious schools in greater Los Angeles. More than 600 teachers are needed to educate them. Unfortunately, says Michael Raileanu, religious-school director at Sinai Temple, “getting the great teachers is harder than ever.”