Weekly Update: August 19, 2016 — 15 Av 5776

It’s Our Challenge

Dr. Jonathan Mirvis, a senior lecturer at the Melton Centre for Jewish Education has recently written a book that has the potential to be transformative for Jewish life. It is titled It’s Our Challenge: A Social Entrepreneurship Approach to Jewish Education.

As its name suggests, the book applies the principles of social entrepreneurship to the goal of enhancing access to Jewish education.

As many of you know, social entrepreneurship is the application of entrepreneurial strategies to bring about the achievement of broadly beneficial societal aims. (David Bornstein, originally of Montreal, now of New York, was one of the key thinkers and advocates for the notion that social entrepreneurialism can be used to help “change the world.”)

We commend the book to GAJE members. Though it primarily focuses on re-imagining methods of delivering education, much of the research and many of the book’s ideas can be applied with equal relevance and vigor to re-imagining the funding of Jewish education. As we have often written in the past, these two streams – rethinking educational models and rethinking funding of current educational methods – will inevitable meet when it is time to distribute newly gathered, specifically dedicated, community education funds.

Mirvis suggests a framework of eight essential traits that must be embraced to achieve a positive result. He distills these traits from the historical example of Rabbi Jochanan Ben Zakkai (whose bravery and farsighted thinking helped save Judaism after the destruction of the Second Temple) and from the more recent examples of four individuals in the USA who took steps to make Jewish education more accessible to a wider audience.

The eight key traits:

  • A strong belief in the importance of Jewish education and its necessity for the future of the Jewish people.
  • A high level of social responsibility and a deep commitment to the Jewish community at large.
  • A deep commitment to making quality Jewish education accessible to larger audiences.
  • A readiness to personally step forward.
  • A “sixth sense” for spotting the opportunity.
  • The courage “to put themselves on the line” and move forward despite the risks involved.
  • A high level of ingenuity and political acumen.”
  • The ability to operate in multiple time frames, dealing with immediate and long-term challenges simultaneously.

Mirvis presents these eight traits as essential for achieving successful results through social entrepreneurialism. In truth they are the very traits all of us need to assure that if we “will something to happen, it will be no mere dream.”

This is GAJE’s framework. We adopt the traits as necessary.

•••

Reminder:

If your family is eligible for the tuition cap program at the AHS or Leo Baeck campus in Thornhill, please enroll. Contact the Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education at the UJA Federation for further information, 416-635-2883.

Shabbat shalom.

GAJE

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