The I. L. Peretz Community Jewish School is a secular Jewish school for children and adults in Central New Jersey. We offer an education program for young children beginning in Kindergarten and leading to a graduation at the end of 7th grade. Older children participate in Teen Group activities, and many of our events and gatherings are attended by Young Adults. This year, due to the pandemic, we have abbreviated our calendar to focus on holiday celebrations and social action. We also offer weekly Educational Programs for Adults, including a conversational Yiddish Class. We gather for traditional holiday celebrations and social-cultural events including our Annual Retreat.
The I. L. Peretz Community Jewish School is a nonprofit educational institution. We are the proud descendant of a secular Jewish school in Central New Jersey founded more than 90 years ago and is linked to The Workmen’s Circle (Der Arbeter Ring in Yiddish), an organization formed in 1900 by a group of progressive-minded Jewish immigrants dedicated to community building and social justice. Like many other labor and fraternal organizations, The Workmen’s Circle started secular Jewish schools. These schools educated children to find fulfillment both as Jews and as citizens of their new countries. The curriculum emphasized Yiddish language and literature, Jewish history, holidays, and folk creativity in dance, song and drama. Today's secular Jewish schools may vary in the language and literature emphasized (our school emphasizes Hebrew), but the other elements are held in common.
Our school was named after the great Yiddish writer I. L. Peretz, who was born in 1852 in Zamosc, Poland. Though raised in the orthodox tradition, he also absorbed worldly knowledge and is one of the most influential figures of modern Jewish culture. Dedicated to Yiddish culture, he recognized that Jews needed to adapt to their times while preserving their cultural heritage, and his captivating and beautiful writings explore the complexities inherent in the struggle between tradition and the desire for progress. At his funeral in 1915 more than one hundred thousand mourners followed his coffin.
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