In his commentary two weeks ago on the Torah portion Bo, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks made a statement that encapsulates the significance of the work of every teacher and every educator who ever attempted over the many years of our history to impart knowledge and insight to our children.
“As Jews we believe that to defend a country you need an army, but to defend a civilization you need education.”
Rabbi Sacks’ observation is unassailably true. Because of this truth, Jewish community leaders regarded the task of ensuring the existence and viability of an educational system for the children in their midst as their historic obligation and inescapably sacred responsibility.
Rabbi Sacks quotes the renowned British scholar, historian on this matter.
“The historian Paul Johnson once wrote that rabbinic Judaism was “an ancient and highly efficient social machine for the production of intellectuals.” Much of that had, and still has, to do with the absolute priority Jews have always placed on education, schools, the beit midrash, religious study as an act even higher than prayer, learning as a life-long engagement, and teaching as the highest vocation of the religious life.”
The current situation regarding the unaffordability of Jewish education is untenable for most families. It leads us to ask: does our community still view Jewish education as an absolute priority? If not now, then when?
The annual Limmud Toronto conference takes place this year on March 19 at St. Andrews Club & Conference Centre in downtown Toronto. The program includes the following sessions affecting GAJE:
- Jewish Education: Do We Want it? Can We Afford It? – Jeff Stutz
- A Viable Alternative to the Financial Crisis in Jewish Education – Sholom Eisenstat
Other sessions also focus on Jewish education but from different perspectives.
We urge GAJE members to register for the conference at limmud.ca.