• We have recently started to feature stories written by parents about the financial and, in some cases, other hardships they face in sending their children to day school. The stories are a testament to the determination of families to provide a Jewish education to their children. The stories can be found on our website and on our Facebook page.
• Once again we remind our followers that GAJE will be part of the upcoming Limmud Toronto Conference on Sunday March 6. We hope that you will attend the conference and especially the session concerning GAJE. We hope that you will tell friends and family about the conference and urge them to attend too.
For information about the conference, visit www.Limmud.ca.
Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, is one of North America’s most experienced and seasoned advocates on behalf of the Jewish people and of Israel. When he was recently in Jerusalem, Hoenlein spoke to the Times of Israel. The interview was published on February 14.
Hoenlein described how the majority of Jewish youth in the United States is incapable and unprepared to respond to the barrage of anti-Israel sentiment they hear on campus, and worse, with the brazen expressions of anti-Semitism with which they must constantly contend.
The interview began with Hoenlein recounting a meeting 45 years ago in New York with then Israeli deputy Prime Minister Yigal Alon.
Alon urged Hoenlein to convey to community leaders that the most far-reaching, most beneficial use of community philanthropic dollars was “to invest in Jewish education. You’ll do more for Israel’s future if you raise your generations and invest the money there.”
That very same message was delivered in December 2011 to Jewish community leaders of Canada by then Foreign Minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman. His plea was published on the front page of The Canadian Jewish News.
The following are some highlights from the Times of Israel article. Hoenlein’s observations inform our efforts with very special relevance…
“The biggest danger we face is a historic danger … apathy, indifference and ignorance,” said Hoenlein.
“We really have a generation who are ignorant — there’s a country song that when you don’t believe in something, you’ll fall for anything. And they fall for anything because they don’t know anything. They don’t have any kind of core foundation,” he said.
That may be the result of a Jewish education that is limping along on what seems like its last legs in all but the ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities. Day schools, which were once the core of formative Jewish education, are in widespread financial trouble or deemed unaffordable for an increasing cross-section of American Jews…
“When kids come to campus, for the most part they are not prepared to respond,” said Hoenlein. “Anti-Semitism and anti-Israel movements on campus are a very serious issue. That 75% of American Jewish kids said they’ve experienced or witnessed anti-Semitic events on campus — it should be an alarm bell for all of us, but it’s not.”
According to a July 2015 report using Birthright applicants’ data, three-quarters of students polled reported hearing anti-Semitic comments on campus. The most commonly heard statements were that Jews have too much power (52%), that Israelis behave “like Nazis” toward Palestinians (44%) and that the Holocaust was a myth or exaggerated (37%)….
Now is the time to “shake things up from the bottom,” said Hoenlein, to offer Jewish students more options for engagement — before they disengage unilaterally.
The complete article from the Times of Israel can be accessed from the Articles page on our website.