All Mixed: Culture and Religion

Critics have variously argued that Hebrew language charter schools impermissibly erode church-state boundaries, potentially balkanize Jews from the rest of society, and create a false dichotomy between Jewish religion and culture.  

“The idea here is to strengthen Jewish identity, but you can’t do it in an open way because you run afoul of the law,” said Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism and a critic of Hebrew charter schools. “So you end up having rabbis and Jewish educators involved, and in all probability promoting Jewish commitment is exactly what they are looking to do, but they can’t do it openly. It simply will not work.”

Yoffie said the idea would not even work on its own terms to promote Jewish identity. “There’s absolutely nothing in 4,000 years of experience to suggest you can separate out religion and culture and simply teach culture to the exclusion of religion,” he said. “Those two pillars are inextricably intertwined.”

via N.Y. Okays Public School With Hebrew Focus. (hattip:

In our current University Ministry study, Engaging the Culture, we are discussing the interaction of culture and faith. in lesson one, this study discusses the five models of church/culture interaction. None of models exclude one. Rabbi Yoffie obviously feels the same way, that one is not without the other.