Connecting Jewish Tulsa

Jewish Community Statement

(June 27, 2024) The Tulsa Jewish Community is deeply concerned by Superintendent Ryan Walters’s recent directive mandating the Christian Bible be present and taught in every public school classroom. While we hold the Hebrew Bible in high regard within Judaism, believing it contains fundamental moral teachings and Jewish history, we believe this directive undermines the core principles of religious freedom and the separation of church and state, which are essential to our democracy and the core principles upon which our nation was founded.  


Earlier this week, the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down the use of state funds for religious charter schools as unconstitutional. Similarly, enforcing the presence of the Christian Bible in public school classrooms not only goes against the spirit of religious neutrality protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but also imposes a specific interpretation that does not encompass the diversity of religious beliefs in our society. 


At a time when Oklahoma faces significant educational challenges, ranking 49th nationally, this directive distracts from addressing crucial education needs. Furthermore, it risks excluding students of various faiths, or those who adhere to no faith, creating divisions rather than fostering an inclusive educational environment.  


We urge Mr. Walters to prioritize creating inclusive educational settings that respect and accommodate the diverse religious and cultural backgrounds of all Oklahoma students. Upholding these principles is vital for preserving religious liberty and ensuring that public education remains a space where every student can learn and thrive without the imposition of specific religious doctrines. 


Brae Riley       
Chair, Community Relations Committee, Jewish Federation of Tulsa


Rabbi Daniel Kaiman
Congregation B’nai Emunah


Rabbi Michael Weinstein
Temple Israel