Weekly Update: May 20, 2016 — 12 Iyar 5776

The CIJA Task Force on the Affordability of Jewish Education met last week. As a member of the task force, GAJE tries to contribute to its work and monitor the task force’s progress.

The following is a brief summary of the meeting.

  • Discussions with federal government officials are ongoing on possible security infrastructure funding for the schools. The Task Force plans a three-pronged approach that will include attempting to conscript Jewish federations across the country to make representations on the subject to respective local officials.
  • The group discussed the possibility of building a wide faith-based coalition of other communities to lobby the provincial government for payments for health support services from provincial government for all children with disabilities. The task force intends to emphasize that the issue is one of fairness for students with special needs.
  • CIJA members intend to discuss education-related matters with the Premier and other members of the government during the Premier’s business mission to Israel.
  • Questions were raised about the pace of progress and the mounting frustration with the fact that there seem to be no positive results to report to the community. CIJA acknowledged and shares the frustration and reiterated their objective to solve the affordability crisis. The task force’s approach however is one of incremental achievements.
  • The next task force meeting is expected to be held before the end of June.

•••

Last month, the CJN published an article by Rabbi Lee Buckman, head of school at TanenbaumCHAT, urging students and their parents not to regard the completion of Grade 8 in a Jewish school as sufficient formal Jewish education.

Rabbi Buckman pointed to three specific reasons for the importance of a Jewish high school education:

  1. It plays a vital role in solidifying a teenager’s Jewish identity.
  2. The big, complex questions are discussed and debated.
  3. It prepares students to feel comfortable in their own Jewish skin when they face the “real world” outside the Jewish bubble.

Rabbi Buckman wrote “Every day… I see firsthand the path to passionate and committed Jewish adulthood being shaped – each student strengthening a Jewish future for all of us.”

Rabbi Buckman acknowledged “there are a lot of understandable reasons for why parents may not choose Jewish high school for their child. ‘Knowing enough’ however, is not one of them.”

We agree with Rabbi Buckman when he urges the continuation of formal Jewish education past Grade 8. But we also acknowledge that one of those “understandable reasons” to which he refers for parents choosing not to send their children to Jewish high school is: the cost of the education.

That is precisely why GAJE formed.

We are dedicated to making Jewish education affordable. And, as we have affirmed over and over again, though it may take some time, we will succeed. Failure is simply not an option.

•••

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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