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Lots of my jewish friends ask me why I didn't send Reuben to a jewish school here in Sydney, like Moriah, Masada or Emmanuel.

It was my mother's dearest wish that Reuben go to the most selective school in Sydney, Grammar. I have no idea why. She firmly believed that religious education should come from the home with values love kindness and spirituality and that academics and social behaviour should be learned at school. That's the way she and my father educated my sister and me.

My mother and I took Reuben to the testing phase of the entrance process for Sydney Grammar School. It was 3 hours and consisted of a number of psychometric tests that were apparently 'standardised' to this day I have no idea what they did in that room.

A few months passed and so did my mother. Very suddenly. We were devastated and still are. My mother was the centre of our family and the glue that kept us together.

A month after her death as my father emerged from mourning, we received a letter and a phone call that Reuben was accepted and we had to attend an interview with the headmaster at Sydney Grammar. I had talked to my father about the possibility of this happening. I was actually opposed to sending Reuben to this school as it did not align with my view of what schooling should be - an open and normalising experience, especially at the age of 5. But my father said emphatically "If he gets in, he should go. It was your mother's wish".

And so he went. I cant help thinking that although I am doing the thing that my parents wished for my son, I am not doing the best thing for him. He is struggling academically (at 5!) as the class is the brightest they have seen for some time, but now is not the time in his little life to change his circle of friends and give him instability. I think I could have honoured my parent's wishes in a different way and still have done the right thing for everyone. It's such a delicate balance.

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Comment by Rachael Zavodnyik on July 25, 2010 at 2:24am
Hi Jodi. Thank you. My mum was a very significant part of our lives, particularly Reuben's and built a very very close relationship with my little boy when I moved back to Sydney after my relationship of 7 years broke down. I had a long long talk with the headmaster on Friday morning. He was wonderful. Incredibly supportive and listened to my concerns particularly the stresses around Reuben's anxiety and the teacher's feedback. He has a number of people in place in the classroom and we'll see if the next terms sees improvement in these areas of concern. I am so glad that I stood up and said something!

Jodi, Sarah is awaiting the arrival of her second child, a little girl. We are all sitting on the edge of our seats. My darling little nephew Wolfgang turned 1 last week and he nearly shared his birthday with his soon to be sister! But we had a false alarm. Sarah is OK. It's a long long long story that wants retelling. But perhaps in person sometime in the not too distant future. Your family stories touch me when I read them Jodi. I'll never forget your and Gavin's kindness and spiritual support of me. I miss your contact! Take care and love to you both and your families.
Comment by Jodi on July 24, 2010 at 11:06pm
wow Rachel I am sorry to hear about your loss. How is your sister? where is she?
i feel that your child's education is one of teh most important life decisions. You need to do what is right for your child and your dad will come round and be happy when he sees your son thriving
Comment by Rachael Zavodnyik on July 22, 2010 at 5:30pm
Thanks Rebecca. I'm meeting with the headmaster today to talk about my concerns and we'll see what happens next. I've thought more about it. I wonder whether this is a whole period of adjustment for my son. He has made some lovely friends. Depending on the outcome of today, I think I'll give it until the end of the year, provided that they are going to offer more support. But we'll see!
Comment by rebecca klempner on July 19, 2010 at 2:24pm
I'd ask a shyla if you really feel that the school isn't the right one for your child. If the Rav tells you to switch your son, tell your dad in a really sensitive way. Highlight that the school is wonderful, but that your son isn't thriving there, and your family didn't really know that until you tried it out.
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