According to a 2013 JData article, there are approximately 1848 congregational schools in America, in addition to the other supplemental programs being run independently by JCCs and other community organizations. That’s over 200,000 students each year are enrolled in some kind of supplemental Jewish learning program. Twice as many children are enrolled in supplemental, part time Jewish learning programs in the U.S. than there are students in non-orthodox Jewish day schools. If the vast majority of children doing any formal or informal Jewish learning are doing so after school in supplemental programs, which begs the question: why aren’t more resources and attention paid to our largest demographic of youth learners?
My first Grateful Dead Concert was in 1989. I was in the 7th grade and there was no turning back. I was hooked. When I was 15 I ran off with the band for the first time, much to my parent’s chagrin. When I was 17 I dropped out of high school to follow the band around full time, and today I continue to consider my Grateful Dead family as among my closest friends and community, and the music – the music of my soul.