An article in last week’s Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters News – since posted on GAJE’s website – describes how the Jewish community of Myrtle Beach innovated a solution to the problem of the unaffordability of Jewish education there.
The Future is Here: Tuition-Free Day School in Myrtle Beach, by Tzipora Reitman, describes the creation of Jewish Education Myrtle Beach (JEMB), a program launched in 2015 that she says “is giving 75 percent of the city’s Jewish children a first-rate, tuition-free Jewish education.”
Reitman interviewed Leah Aizenman and her husband Rabbi Doron Aizenman, the co-founders of the Chabad Jewish Academy and the driving forces behind Jewish Education initiative. Their goal “is to educate the entire community about the importance of Jewish education, and for the community to want to share in this responsibility.”
The importance of Jewish education to the entire community has translated into a broad effort to involve as many individuals as possible to actually make Jewish education not only affordable, but actually free for the families that wish it for their children.
The approach is direct. It conforms with the norms of Jewish life all through the ages.
“To finance free tuition at the day school, each household in the Jewish community, whether they have five children in the school, one, or none – whether they are parents or grandparents of alumni, or have no children at all – is asked to become a JEMB Member for $1,000. Seventy families, representing nearly 80 percent of the families in the community, have stepped up. Business owners were asked for $5,000.”
Of course the community and the school are small. But the determination, innovation and resolve to bring Jewish education to as many children as possible are a story that must be widely told. It offers lessons and a path for other communities.
The community of Myrtle Beach has found a way. So too can we.