Earlier this week the Board of Directors of The Leo Baeck Day School announced its decision to close its campus in Thornhill at the end of this school year. The president of the school’s board, Dr. Lisa Dack, succinctly and accurately described the emotion that accompanied the decision. “Today is an incredibly sad day for Leo Baeck, as well as the entire Jewish community, which is losing another Jewish day school in York Region.”
The closing of Leo Baeck north is woefully unwelcome news.
The hopes and dreams of building in Thornhill a diverse, pluralistic Jewish Community where options for families to choose from a variety of day school offerings are slipping away. That “variety” today comprises three schools: Netivot, Eitz Chaim and Bialik.
But this is not the last word on Jewish education in Vaughan.
There are many reasons that explain the rise and fall of Jewish education in Thornhill. The pre-eminent one however, is the cost of tuition. This was confirmed not long ago in a poll conducted for the Federation.
GAJE is working hand in hand with UJA Federation and CIJA to create a lifeline for the schools and families. We must all do so.
We all recognize that for Jews in the Greater Toronto area saving our day schools is and will be the top priority. Federation has publicly stated that enabling more children to enrol in Jewish education is the compelling issue for our future as a vibrant, diverse Jewish community.
Combined with the effort to make education more affordable, we must now also speak directly and effusively about the excellence and importance of Jewish education. And so we shall.
The task for all of us is clear. It is also urgent.
We have the ability to reverse the trend of school closures and to create, instead, a new trend of having to accommodate an increasing demand for enrolment in our Jewish schools.
But first we must find the will.