Enrollment at U.S. Jewish Days Schools Is Up - but Only Among Orthodox

Overall enrollment has increased by 70,000 students in the last five years, census of Jewish days schools shows.

© Jwmelrose | Dreamstime.com

Overall enrollment at Jewish day schools in the United States has increased in the last 15 years. However, non-Orthodox enrollment at those schools is down, according to the fourth census of Jewish-American day schools.

The census, conducted by Dr. Marvin Schick and released by the Avi Chai Foundation, shows that enrollment at Jewish days schools has increased 12 percent – or by 70,000 students – since the last census five years ago, and is up 37 percent from 15 years ago.

The census began in the 1998-99 school year and has been conducted at five-year intervals since, in an effort to paint a clear picture of trends in the Jewish day school system, according to eJewish Philanthropy.

Hasidic schools and yeshivas account for a large part of the increase, having grown 110 percent and 60 percent, respectively.

In the non-Orthodox sector, the census showed that enrollment has decreased and accounts for 13 percent of all day school enrollment – down from 20 percent in 1998-99. These numbers present the Jewish community with a challenge, said Dr. Schick.

"Will day school continue to be a principal instrument for Judaic strengthening among those segments of American Jewish life for whom day school education is a critical determinant of young people’s future Judaic commitment?” he asked.

Jewish students are enrolled at 861 day schools in 37 states and the District of Columbia; in 10 of those states, enrollment is less than 100.

Enrollment has surged in New York and New Jersey, growing by 47,000 students, or 45 percent, in New York and by nearly 21,000 students, or 116 percent, in New Jersey between 1998 and 2013.