Looking for Zebuluns

The New Year brings new hope and new resolve. Always and everywhere.

So too at GAJE.

Having assessed information and conclusions from countless conversations, discussions, research and studies, the Funding Committee is now working on bringing forward previously untried methods for making tuition affordable to the vast middle economic band of families. Thus, GAJE hopes to announce this year a new approach to enabling every family in our community that wishes to enrol their children in Jewish education.

Through the generosity and commitment of a civic-minded individual in our community, the Legal Committee retained the services of one of the country’s preeminent human rights experts to assess the feasibility of “re-opening” the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision (Adler) in 1996 that ruled Ontario’s educational funding policies to be constitutional. Our counsel submitted a legal opinion in which he concluded: “There is merit in a request for reconsideration of the Adler decision.”

In addition, we know that the conversation about the immunity from adopting a just and fair educational funding policy granted to Ontario by the Adler decision is now also being discussed among legal scholars, teachers and students. They too are asking if “Adler” is still good law? GAJE contends that it is not. A great deal – law, social attitudes, and educational practices in the rest of the country – has changed in the intervening 22 years.

GAJE also contends that if the government of Ontario will not of its own inclination to do the right thing change its funding policy to accord with fairness and justice and Canada-wide practice, we must once again turn to the courts to compel Ontario to do so.

In the December 28 edition of The Canadian Jewish News, Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl elegantly and succinctly reminded us of our core human responsibility regarding the permanence of our people.

“The future of the Jewish people is based on Jewish education… While the transmission of Torah was originally the responsibility of the family, as a system of study developed, it required funding by patrons or taxation.”

With Jewish education as his laser, locked in focus, Rabbi Frydman-Kohl explained a quizzical aspect of the blessings conferred by Jacob and Moses upon Zebulun and Issachar. Rabbi Frydman-Kohl states that Jacob and Moses had in mind the eternal importance of sustaining a communal system of education. “The Issachar/Zebulun (student/business person) partnership venerated those who supported Jewish education.”

GAJE’s lawyer has offered to conduct the legal challenge to the “Adler case” from trial through appeals for a deeply discounted fee. We must now hope more civic-minded individuals – the “Zebuluns” in the community – step forward to help further engage our lawyer to carry the case forward to its ultimate resolution.

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Shabbat Shalom.

GAJE

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