Glenn A. Drew, a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the American Hebrew Academy in Greensboro, North Carolina has written an important article, entitled The Delusion of Affordability, in which he eloquently pleads for more involvement by the philanthropic community in funding and sustaining Jewish day schools.
Drew makes the point that for no other key societal institutions – universities, hospitals, and museums – do we expect the consumer to pay the actual cost of operating the institution. “So why do we hold Jewish schools to an impossible double standard? Doing so is not only delusional; it is an affront to those who dedicate themselves to Jewish education,” the author asks.
Drew pleads the case of the Jewish schools: they are vital to the Jewish future and they require ongoing community involvement to maintain and sustain. Forever.
“Donors take note; Jewish schools continue to have the highest return on investment by any measure when compared with other Jewish programs, based on the numbers of young people who reflect unwavering pride in their Jewish heritage, strength in their Jewish identity, and a lifetime commitment to Jewish community, leadership, culture, experiences, support for Israel and Jewish life in the diaspora.
“The statistics are irrefutable. The Jewish People Policy Institute’s (JPPI) report on Raising Jewish Children found young Jewish leaders are disproportionately educated in Jewish schools. Jewish teen social networks influence the decision to attend Jewish schools which in turn furthers Jewish marriage.”
Drew acknowledges “affordability is not the only obstacle to Jewish school growth”. But it is the core of the core. The main point of his article, however, is that Jewish day schools are indispensible for the Jewish future and it falls to the entire community – including, if not especially the philanthropists among us – to maintain and sustain those schools. If we are to have the Jewish future of which we dream.