An annual Milwaukee-area census of Jewish education has found an increased number of contacts with Jewish education over the last year.
Participation among children and teens rose from 2,851 instances of contact with major Jewish educational programs in the 2017-2018 academic year to 2,923 in 2018-2019. That’s an increase of more than 2 percent.
These instances of participation include attendance at Jewish day schools, evening and weekend religious schools that are typically affiliated with synagogues, preschools, tutoring, youth groups and the PJ Library reading program.
Tziporah Altman-Shafer, Jewish education community planner for the Coalition for Jewish Learning of Milwaukee Jewish Federation, said the results this year make her “enthusiastic for the future.” The Coalition for Jewish Learning performs the census annually.
More good news – the census recorded a small increase in day school enrollment and a significant upward bump in youth group enrollment. Jewish day school population increased by 1.8 percent, or by 11 students, from the 2017-2018 academic year to 2018-2019. Also, every local Jewish day school either grew or maintained enrollment compared to the prior year.
“I was happy to see that Jewish education in Milwaukee is increasingly connecting with local teens and children,” Altman-Shafer said. “This is the second year in a row that the total census including formal and informal education has increased.”
Youth group enrollment jumped by 10 percent, or 67 students, though this is helped in part by the addition of a youth group to the census that wasn’t included previously. Also, the numbers in this category can be misleading because students may enroll in youth groups without attending, or youth groups may count students who attend sporadically.
Preschool enrollment rose by 4 percent, from 437 to 456 students. This is the highest level recorded by the census since 2008. Part-time religious school enrollment dropped by about 3 percent.
The census does not include summer camps, Altman-Shafer said.
“Milwaukee can be proud of our education and engagement programs,” she said.