Weekly Update: May 27, 2016 — 19 Iyar 5776

The Funding Committee is working on a set of newly imagined funding proposals. It is hoped that the target date for presenting them to the public will be in the early autumn.

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In his column this month in The Canadian Jewish News, Daniel Held, Executive Director, Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education, pleaded for a new approach, more invigorated and comprehensive approach for “maximizing both the depth and breadth of impact of Jewish education on our community.”

Specifically, he urged community leaders and activists, not only educators, to try to convince the parents of the increasing numbers of families who are uncertain about whether they will continue with their children’s Jewish education after Grade Eight, or even start formal Jewish education for their children. Or as Held elegantly wrote, “Whereas once a child’s Jewish journey was somewhat prescribed, today parents and children are undecided, waiting to be convinced of the extent to which they will engage in Jewish educational experiences.”

Held minced no words. We must be quite vocal in proclaiming the individual and collective importance of Jewish education, identity and affiliation.

“The leadership of schools, camps, synagogues, and other Jewish organizations must concentrate not only on ensuring the highest quality (and affordability) of the programs they offer, but also on articulating the value proposition they offer to an increasingly discerning consumer and shouting it from the rooftops.”) (Our emphasis)

We agree entirely with Held. In our view, however, the highest, most daunting hurdle for the majority of the vacillating, uncommitted, “maybe” families to surmount is cost of tuition. Making the key Jewish educational experience affordable is the pre-eminent challenge to the leadership.

In this regard, it is fortuitous to note that Held’s plea to the leadership of the community found a resonant echo this week in the words of Rabbi Marc D. Angel, the head of The Institute of Jewish Ideas and Ideals.

In recalling the character of a friend who had passed away, Rabbi Angel defined somewhat the type of individual who we believe will succeed in fulfilling Held’s hope.

“Religious leadership needs to be in the hands of those…who see the long view of Jewish history and destiny, who are tirelessly and selflessly committed to serving God and humanity with love, kindness, compassion, wisdom and moral courage. Great leadership is the gift of few special individuals who have a trans-generational view, who draw strength from the wisdom of the past and who keep focused on the needs of their generation and the generations yet to come.”

The leadership that Held seeks and that Rabbi Angel partially describes is emerging anew in our community, the inheritors of the generous, visionary founding generations of men and women who understood the central, core importance of Jewish education as the guarantor of a Jewish tomorrow.

Jewish education will become affordable and with it, the vitality of Jewish continuity will become assured.

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Shabbat shalom.

GAJE

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