Judaism is very protective of human dignity. In our teachings and in our prayers we are taught to treat the next person with utmost respect, careful not to harm his or her self-image. Indeed, it is not an overstatement that modern human rights legislation, in large part, can be traced directly to ancient Jewish teachings. For example, we are warned not to place obstacles or stumbling blocks in the path of the blind, nor to deride or curse of the deaf.
Because each individual counts as precious and worthy, each must be given a chance to succeed with his or her life. Most progressive western societies therefore decree that we must reasonably accommodate an individual with special needs.
The obligation to reasonably accommodate “needy” others falls upon society as a whole not only upon individuals and companies.
How much more so then for Jewish society, that is, the Jewish community?
Is not the utter lack of affordability of Jewish education not the equivalent of an obstacle or stumbling block on the path of Jewish life for most middle-income families? Indeed it is.
It is not difficult to imagine our prophets and sages urging community leaders to put in place a comprehensive system of reasonably accommodating the families who–despite genuine efforts–are unable to pay for Jewish education.
The philanthropic initiative last year by the Neuberger-Jesin family to reduce tuition at CHAT by nearly a third (for a five-year experimental period) has resulted in a steep increase in new enrolment for the 2018-2019 academic year. We therefore have empirical evidence that enrolment is indeed a function of tuition.
As a community, we must do all in our power to this enrolment momentum going.
We appeal to other families, individuals or corporations to step forward to follow the Neuberger-Jesin example.
We appeal to them to try–as the Neuberger-Jesin family has tried–to remove obstacles from the paths of so many Jewish families trying merely to raise their children as Jews.