Rabbi Jay Kelman, one of the core GAJE founders and one of the early proponents of applying insurance instruments to help reimagine the funding of Jewish education in our community, has offered a new set of innovative ideas to Jewish day schools as a way of making the education they offer more affordable.
In an article that appeared this week in The CJN, he urges the schools “to think out of the box” by following upon the precedent-setting model last month of a co-ordinated, single-day, fundraising campaign among nine schools. “This joint effort got me thinking of other ways the schools could join together, not only to raise much-needed revenues, but to cut costs, as well,” Kelman wrote.
Kelman suggested that this diverse set of schools centralize other key aspects of their administrative practices such as fundraising and tuition. Such centralization, Kelman states quite categorically would also yield further administrative efficiencies and a reduction in costs in some areas.
In addition to the substantive benefit to the schools and to their respective parent/child constituencies, Kelman forcefully points out that new, collective thinking would yield profoundly positive symbolic results.
“Bringing together our diverse community to ensure that Jewish education becomes both affordable and sustainable sends a powerful message about the unity of the Jewish People. The tuition crisis affects Jews of all persuasions and backgrounds, and we should work together to solve it. No doubt, some will balk at such a unified approach and support only the schools that reflect their ideological bent, and such is their prerogative. But only those who join together under one fundraising umbrella would be eligible for assistance from the community.”
Kelman’s ideas are starkly fresh and cry out for wide, collective embrace by the schools of the community. Cornerstone community organizations such as the Federation and the various synagogues should encourage the schools to do so.
“It is time we come together as a community and start thinking outside the box, to help secure our Jewish future,” Kelman concludes. We agree.
And the time is urgent.