Some are religious, where families want to
include religion in the curriculum. Others
may believe mainstream schools are too
Christian to begin with.
Finding Friends, Activities
An abundance of religious Christians who
homeschool can make it hard for a Jewish
family to find peers. But local families
say it's not hard for their children to find
friends or opportunities to socialize.
In fact, they chuckle when asked the
inevitable question about socialization.
Homeschooling parents agree vehemently
that socialization and being stuck with
same-age peers for eight hours every day
are two very different things. And they
all agree hands-down that their children
are better able to socialize with children
and adults of all ages than their school-
Lanzkron-Tamarazo notes that she was
painfully shy as a child, and she is proud
of how comfortable her children are inter-
acting with adults and strangers the family
Online groups for Jewish homeschoolers
help kids connect with others like them,
a good resource especially if there aren't
many Jewish families to interact with close
to home. There's also a wealth of resources,
from curricula to philosophy to Judaics.
Most of the people interviewed seem to
create their own curricula and either pur-
chase educational materials or get them
from public libraries.
In cities with larger Jewish populations,
there are homeschooling groups, like Los
Angeles' LA Jewish Homeschoolers. In
southeast Michigan, the handful of Jewish
homeschooling families know one anoth-
er; but they also interact regularly with
homeschoolers of many faiths and from no
faiths at all. What they have in common is
a desire to live outside the box and learn
alongside their children.
Lisa and Frank Lanzkron-Tamarazo's
three kids are "unschooled:' a form of
homeschooling that allows the child to
direct all learning. They started doing this
when they were living in New Jersey and
Max, now 12, was a toddler. Lisa was dis-
appointed with the Montessori preschool
she first sent him to.
"They had no great insight into who he
was:' she recalls. They tried a parent-child
class at a Waldorf school an hour and a
half away, but the distance was too great a
hardship to make it a regular practice.
So Lisa began researching her options
for teaching her children herself.
"I come from a Type-A family so I had
concerns about what it would mean if
they wanted to attend an Ivy League col-
lege she says. And then she read a book,
Excellence in Homeschooling, about four
brothers who were homeschooled, learned
to read at different ages and all went to
The Lanzkron-Tamarazo family, own-
ers of Chazzano Coffee Roasters, follow
no curriculum. The children choose what
they want to do. Lately, Max has been into
computer programming and knitting —
he's knitting the tallit for his bar mitzvah,
in fact. Doris, 9, reads a lot; and Nicoletta,
7, is really into dolls.
"I wouldn't be able to spend so much
time knitting and playing with computers
if I had to go to school; says Max. Then
he and his sisters get into a debate about
whether the activities they do could all
reasonably be considered "extracurricular"
if they do not attend school. The banter
is easy and intellectually far beyond their
They are shomer Shabbat (Shabbat
observant) and Frank, a cantor, is
employed part-time at Congregation Beth
Shalom in Oak Park. Though the family
lives above their coffee shop in Ferndale,
they have a Shabbat home near the syna-
gogue. It is there that the children find
many friends in Beth Shalom's religious
school, which they attend for the oppor-
tunity to make friends, their parents say.
They also interact with others on
Fridays, when they hang out with an
open homeschooling co-op in which the
Schwartz-Moltz family takes part.
Some Jewish families who home-
school weave Judaism into their learn-
ing, and some say it's so much a part of
their daily lives that the children learn
religion and spirituality by osmosis.
Aliana Schwartz learned for her bat
mitzvah with a Jerusalem-based tutor
over Skype and pretty much led the
entire service at Congregation Beth
Ahm in West Bloomfield, where they
are members. It wasn't a one-
time thing, says Kathleen Moltz.
Aliana continues to take part
as a fully active member of the
congregation every week. And
Aliana and Itamar also take part
in Beth Ahm's Shabbat school.
Critics of homeschooling tend
to point to "socialization" as
a barrier, decrying the idea of
isolating children at home with
a parent. They worry about a
child's independence. The criti-
cism is unfounded, say home-
"Yes, my children are not
socialized to stand in line and
wait for a fire drill:' says Moltz.
"They are socialized to pick up
a fire extinguisher or quickly
evacuate to a safe place and
watch out for the people around
them rather than stand in a
Marilyn Finkelman, a
Southfield resident who home-
schooled her youngest son
Yaacov, now 25, from third
grade on, says, "The socializa-
tion thing is a piece of thinking
of school as normal. If you spend time
with homeschooled kids, they socialize
entirely differently from the way school
kids socialize. It is not age-segregated and
it is not gender-segregated.
"We take school so for granted that we
think the way kids socialize in school is
normal and when kids bully each other,
that's just kids. Maybe it's not. Maybe it's
the setting they're in that encourages that
competitive behavior because everything's
graded. Maybe it's a dysfunctional school
Her son, Yaacov, reflecting on his educa-
tion, calls the school type of socialization
a form of "imprisonment" with same-age
At the end of the day, homeschooling is
an incredible commitment — on the part
of parents and on the part of children, too.
But it can be incredibly freeing.
Doris Lanzkron-Tamarazo is already
writing novels. Itamar Moltz learned quan-
tum physics before he learned to read.
The Schwartz-Moltz kids visit the Detroit
Institute of Arts and sit with sketchpads,
interacting with the docents about what
they see on the canvas and what they're
recording to take home.
"I wanted to see my children have
those aha moments:' says Lisa Lanzkron-
Tamarazo. "Watching my children learn to
read was awesome:'
Every so often, Moltz and Schwartz
evaluate how homeschooling is going and
whether their children need something
different. So far, the answer has been no.
"It takes more work to homeschool your
children:' says Moltz, "but I think the
rewards are so much greater:'
Lynne Meredith Golodner is a writer, entrepre-
neur and mother of four children.
Right: Max Lanzkron-
Tamarazo, 12, chose to
learn to knit as part
of his homeschooling.
He works on his bar
mitzvah tallit as he
chats with his mom,
Below: The Lanzkron-
Tamarazo family at
their coffee shop,
Roasters: Parents Lisa
and Frank, Max, 12,
Nicoletta, 7, and
February 14 • 2013