Revisiting a novel, large idea
Some five years ago, Avigdor Lieberman, then Israel’s Foreign Minister, told The CJN that what Israel needs most from Diaspora Jewry is to raise Jews. By that, he meant that Diaspora Jewry must consider its first priority to be stemming and then reversing the flow of assimilation. He urged leaders of the Diaspora to adopt policies that inculcated in our youth a deep sense of communal belonging to the Jewish people. Of course he was referring to the building up of meaningful, high impact Jewish educational system for Jewish families across the broad spectrum of North American life.
In February of 2012, Minister Lieberman called upon his government to set aside $365 million a year to prevent Diaspora Jews “from assimilating into oblivion.”
Perhaps it is time to listen anew to Minister Lieberman’s plea to Diaspora leaders?
Israeli involvement in Diaspora Jewish education makes sense. Indeed, it was not long ago – when enrollment and demand were higher – that teachers from Israel (shlichim) were a vital part of the teacher contingent for Jewish studies in our local day schools. A new role for Israel in helping secure the future of Jewish education might now be appropriate.
Some two years after Minister Lieberman gave that interview to The CJN and after his funding proposal in Israel, an article appeared on the eJewish Philanthropy website resurrecting the idea the State of Israel openly supporting Jewish education in the Diaspora.
Written by Robert Evans and Avrum Lapin and entitled “Billions For Education?” Should the State of Israel Be a Funder of Day School Education in the Diaspora? the authors explore an idea floated by Yosef Abramowitz, an entrepreneur, philanthropist from the Boston area, who suggested that the government of Israel offer interest free loans for day school tuition to families in Diaspora communities.
The details of Abromovitz’ suggestion are not pertinent for our purpose. What is pertinent is the notion that it is appropriate for Israel to actively take steps to buttress the failing system of Jewish education in the non-Orthodox Diaspora world.
Is it not evident that nurturing the blocks of Jewish peoplehood is also nurturing the foundation of a thriving interdependent, interrelated relationship between the Jews of the Diaspora and of Israel? And is not that relationship the essence of our acknowledgment of the Jewish past and the Jewish future?
It is time to revisit this notion. It may indeed be a great notion.
We thank the many individuals who have volunteered to take part in the focus groups we will soon be conducting. You will soon be contacted, if you have not been already, regarding the details of the meetings. These groups are intended to provide feedback about some of our ideas to make day school costs more manageable.
We urge all GAJE members and followers to set aside at least some moments of remembrance at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour today in grateful acknowledgment of the debt we all owe but can never truly repay to the men and women who have fallen in wars and battles over the years protecting us and our way of life.
May their memories always be for blessing.