Weekly Update: June 24, 2016 — 18 Sivan 5776

This is a very sweet time of year for most of our children.

The end of this week marks the end of the school year for most children attending Jewish schools. At whatever stage in their school careers and to whichever grade they are advancing, our children are to be commended.

School is not always pleasant. But it is always necessary. The school year is long and always tiring. At all stages and in all grades, school holds soaring rewards and painful disappointments. Self-confidence climbs; sometimes it tumbles.

We do not underestimate the achievement of our children as they complete yet another school year. Crossing the invisible border from one grade to the next is a significant milestone for each child. It should be celebrated and heralded with emphatic love by each family.

Nor do we underestimate the profoundly important contribution of our teachers, administrators and all school staff in guiding our children in guiding our children through the triumphs and the travails of ten long months of classroom discovery. We thank them and commend them all.

But as one school year draws to a close, the next one is already being planned. Tuitions have already been established for the coming year. And as many administrators have already heard from some parents, the cost is too high for them to bear. The cumulative financial pressure is too onerous; the stresses upon their family now too near the breaking point. These parents worry for the overall emotional, social and financial health of their family.

As a community, we should also worry for these families. We must endeavor with all our might to keep the children of these families in Jewish schools. Their dignity is our dignity. Their children are all of our children.

Some years ago, Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks has eloquently explained why the obligation falls upon us all.

“For Jews, education is not just what we know. It’s who we are. No people ever cared for education more. Our ancestors were the first to make education a religious command, and the first to create a compulsory universal system of schooling – eighteen centuries before Britain… The Egyptians built pyramids, the Greeks built temples, and the Romans built amphitheaters. Jews built schools. They knew that to defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need education. So Jews became the people whose heroes were teachers, whose citadels were schools, and whose passion was study and the life of the mind.”

Making Jewish education affordable knows no quick fix or easy solution. But there is a fix. There is a solution. We will find it. In Rabbi Sacks’ words, we will defend our civilization.

•••

The Centre for Israel and Jewish Advocacy (CIJA) has asked GAJE to assist in calling the public’s attention to an effort by CIJA to secure additional support from the federal government for security infrastructure program (SIP) for our various Jewish Day schools in the community. Specifically, CIJA is asking members of the public to make their voices heard to the federal government calling for more funds to be expended to help defray the cost of the security measures our schools must undertake.

SIP currently covers up to 50% of the costs for institutions to upgrade their exterior security measures. But as we know, alas, the need for Jewish schools and other institutions in the community to maintain security vigilance is ongoing. There is a constant need to modernize and expand the security program to further lessen the financial burden on the schools.

CIJA has asked individuals to email the Minister of Public Safety and their MPs. You can do this directly from the CIJA website, at http://www.cija.ca/sip.

We urge you to act. Every bit of statutory aid to the parents helps to ultimately abate the cost of tuition to parents.

•••

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.

To share your story, either send us a message on our Facebook page or email us @ info @ gaje.ca.

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