Weekly Update: March 25, 2016 — 15 Adar II 5776

Members on each of our committees are fully engaged on a number of projects that interconnect and that we hope will eventually form an integrated program of action for GAJE.

The Political and Legal Action Committee is taking part in CIJA’s Task Force on Affordable Jewish Education. Even as we participate in the task force’s deliberations, we are also monitoring its progress with great interest. In addition to our work with the task force, the committee is also pursuing the feasibility of other steps in relation to possible legal or political action to help make Jewish education affordable.

The Marketing Committee is trying to assemble the pieces of a program of a community event to be held in the late summer or early fall.

And the Funding Committee is constantly meeting with a variety of individuals from different business and financial disciplines to present newly imagined funding options to the public at large.

•••

Yesterday we celebrated Purim.

Unlike Esther and many of her co-religionists who lived in those days in Shushan, Purim, we wear no literal or metaphorical masks to succeed as Jews in our community. Our Judaism is as vital to us as the air we breathe. It informs who we are to the rest of our world and even, to ourselves. Who would we be without our Judaism?

On March 16, Tablet published a story by Olivia Gordon, entitled A Second Chance For a Jewish Education. It is a poignant cri de ceour by the author who laments not having been more interested in her Jewish education or in a significantly Jewish way of life as a young child.

Later in life, married and with children, she decides it is important to try to find for her children a way of life that had eluded her.

She does not write about day school. She writes about supplementary school, or what she refers to as cheder. Nor is the story about an exorbitant cost of Jewish education. But it touches a sensitive nerve because of the longing the author depicts for a system and level of knowledge and a way of life she had once spurned.

“In September, Humphrey [the author’s son] will move up into cheder proper—and I’m excited. There aren’t many Jews in Oxford, but through cheder, he will get to make Jewish friends his own age. The cheder leader is so full of fun ideas for the children that apparently these days they don’t want to miss a week. There are sleepovers, a summer camp, and all kinds of creative arts and drama. And when it comes to learning Hebrew, now that I’m grown up, I think, “How amazing to get to learn this back-to-front, ancient language.” I can only hope Humphrey sees it the same way, but I’m already looking forward to studying Hebrew along with him—and giving myself a second chance.”

As an adult, the author understood that she no longer needed the mask she had worn in her younger days. And she embraced the opportunity to live her Jewish life anew.

•••

Shabbat shalom.

GAJE

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We would like to share personal stories about how the affordability issue has affected families in our community. We will post these stories anonymously on our Facebook page and on our website.

We will not include any personal information such as names, schools, other institutions, or any other identifying information. We reserve the right to edit all submissions.

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