Looking back. Looking forward.
As calendar 2016 draws to its close, we must truthfully admit that we cannot yet point to the progress for which we had hoped at this stage in our efforts to make Jewish education more affordable.
But as we look forward to calendar 2017 we must also truthfully admit, that we are not daunted. For we can indeed point to progress in advancing the cause even though the pace of that progress is slower than we had imagined it might be. Moreover, communal institutions this year also adopted a higher public profile on the subject of affordable Jewish education. CIJA created a task force to tackle the problem of affordable education and the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto also publicly reaffirmed its urgent commitment to making Jewish education affordable.
In a recent interview with The CJN, (December 29, 2016), Adam Minsky, president and CEO of UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, referred to Jewish education as “the backbone of our community.” Of course, Minsky is correct. He also said that Jewish education “is a priority for us. When I talk about the strategic plan, this is at the forefront of our efforts.”
Minsky’s statement about Jewish education augers well for the community.
Seeking a sense of community
Rabbi Jennifer Goldsmith, the managing director of Congregational Learning for the Jewish Education Project, has written a thoughtful article for Jeducation World, Prioritizing Jewish Life from the Very Beginning, in which she reflects upon parental hopes and aspirations for their children’s attachment to the Jewish people.
Rabbi Goldsmith explores the positive identity-building results for families that can arise by a positive geometry of cultural, educational and spiritual inter-connections by belonging to various communal Jewish institutions.
“Ultimately,” Rabbi Goldsmith writes, “parents also want their children to feel a sense of community, belonging and excitement about Jewish life that starts early and has enough staying power to inform their life choices as they grow into independent decision-makers – and hopefully, someday, grow up to make these choices for their own families.”
Rabbi Goldsmith has meaningfully articulated the objective we seek for Jewish families within the broad beautiful collectivity of the Jewish people.
Shabbat shalom. Chag Urim samayach!
And a happy, healthy, prosperous 2017!
At this time next year, may we be able to say – in the words of Rabbi Goldsmith – parents can start to feel more confident that they will be able to instill in their children a sense of community belonging and excitement about Jewish life for affordable Jewish education is now clearly on the horizon.