Weekly Update: July 15, 2016 — 9 Tamuz 5776

We must find new ways. The future depends on it.

On the blog site that he created, Jewish Connectivity, Rabbi Arnold Samlan, the Executive Director of the Orloff Central Agency for Jewish Education of Broward County in Florida, urged Jews throughout the Diasporah to think courageously and innovatively – much like pioneers (chalutzim) who take bold, new steps in any field – about Jewish education.

Jewish Connectivity is a platform for promoting the idea of connectedness as a goal of Jewish education: how Jewish people connect to one another, to their community, to their heritage, to their future.

Rabbi Samlan, wrote specifically about reimagining new ways of delivering Jewish education.

GAJE, on the other hand, is about reimagining new ways to fund Jewish education. The two streams, however, are complementary. They will intersect in the near future once GAJE has succeeded in helping the community fund, for all times, a new, permanent education trust fund.

The substance of Rabbi Samlan’s message along with its urgency are as relevant to GAJE’s mission as they are to the mission of creating new schools of and for the future.

“We as a Jewish educational community need to look for and invest in the next big things. Innovative approaches will look different from the chalutzim of the March of the Living or High School in Israel. This generation of chalutzim are likely to be much more local and are as likely to be independent entrepreneurs as they are to be the “establishment” organizations that dived into the March in the 80’s. But our establishment (and yes, I am a proud leader of an establishment organization) needs to perform an act of tzimtzum (to borrow the Kabbalistic term), retracting to give room for new entrepreneurs with experimental ideas, to gather momentum and to create impact. We need to be bold and brave enough to make our institutions into laboratories in which new ways of educating are tested and proved.

“The future of Jewish education and engagement depends on it.”

We agree with Rabbi Samlan that we need to be “bold and brave.” So do many members of our community. GAJE is finding them. With their resolve and determination, we will indeed elicit “innovative approaches” to making Jewish education affordable for all families who seek it for their children.

The future does depend on it.

•••

GAJE hopes to enlist the help of as many rabbis as possible to speak from their pulpits during the upcoming High Holidays about the need to make Jewish education affordable. We will soon distribute summary materials and fact sheets on the subject of the affordability of Jewish education to the rabbis in the community and to others who may wish them. We ask our GAJE members to join in our recruitment effort. Please speak to your rabbi. Ask him or her to join the cause. It is not too soon.

As we consult widely and seek options to present to the public, it is vital to bear in mind the following:

  1. We believe with all our hearts that the crisis in the cost of Jewish education is solvable.
  2. We believe that to say there is no solution breaks faith with our forebears and with the deepest values affirmed throughout Jewish history.
  3. We further believe that the obligation to solve the problem lies with the entire community.

•••

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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