Affordability is a community-wide concern
GAJE’s efforts are aimed with laser-like focus on helping make Jewish education affordable for every family that seeks it for its children. Many components contribute to the very high cost of tuition. They must all be tackled and resolved if we are to truly succeed in our aim.
Ultimately, we can – and will – succeed if the community at large and community leaders view the crisis in affordability as one that cuts across organizational loyalties, requiring urgent, comprehensive, new-approach, novel-thinking attention.
This, in turn, will happen when we understand that a thriving, diverse Jewish community in the future is best assured by making Jewish education – in its widest sense – affordably available to as large a number of our children as possible.
It is therefore gratifying to read so many writers turning their attention to the myriad questions surrounding Jewish education including what constitutes an excellent Jewish education.
Communities throughout North America are struggling with the same questions.
And that is good.
The True Purpose of Jewish Education
Dr. David Bryfman, chief innovation officer at The Jewish Education Project, recently published an article that appeared on the eJewishPhilanthropy website, entitled “When You’re Happy and You Know It – The True Purpose of Jewish Education.”
It is an engaging essay that is both provocative and inspirational.
We do not agree with all of Dr. Bryfman’s observations. His remarks seem to be directed to the more uniform, classically Yeshivah-like pedagogical methods of former times. It appears that he approaches Jewish education as if it were a finite, time-restricted, narrow-window process. But we know, it is not.
Still, we commend Dr. Bryfman’s article to anyone interested in bringing as many people as possible to the excitement and the possibilities of Jewish education. He touches upon the vital heart of the purpose of Jewish education. And his views are important to read.
For example, he states “For Jewish education to be successful, it must hold at its core, the mission to make people happy. If we don’t strive for this, Jewish education – and by extension living a Jewish life – will remain irrelevant for the vast majority of Jews today.
“If nothing else Jewish tradition should help people to answer four of life’s most existential questions:
- Who am I?
- Where do I fit in to this world?
- How can I live a more fulfilling life?
- How can I make the world a better place?
“The majority of Jews will only engage in Jewish learning when they can directly see how our tradition and heritage will help them to thrive, flourish and above all, be happy.”
[Dr. Bryfman, of course, is referring to the majority of non-Orthodox Jews.]
And isn’t this – the objective as articulated by Dr. Bryfman – the one that lies in all our hearts for our children?