Aaron Blumenfeld and Ira Walfish, well-known, long committed activists for social justice in the Jewish and broader community, recently published an article in The CJN (Complacency not an Option When it Comes to School Funding, April 7, 2019). They pleaded with members of the community to become more demonstrably involved in trying to convince politicians to address the issues that directly and deeply affect Jewish life.
Blumenfeld and Walfish pointed out that if politicians do not hear from large numbers of people concerning an issue, they are not likely to act on it. Moreover, they contend that politicians are not hearing from us in sufficient numbers on the issues of greatest concern to the Jewish community,
In particular they pointed to the issue of the affordability of Jewish education. “We submit that our most important communal issue is the lack of government funding for our schools. As our campuses continue to close and overall enrolment drops, we are in crisis mode. It is unrealistic to believe that this situation will change without communal pressure on politicians.”
The community’s advocacy agencies do, in fact, lobby the government about changing educational funding in our province. But Blumenfeld and Walfish’s point is well taken. The government must hear from the grassroots of the community too, from large numbers of individuals, from “the people”, the phrase many of our politicians are so fond of invoking.
As Blumenfeld and Walfish urge, we “must become vocal in promoting our issues.”
They are correct to call “for a paradigm shift…if our schools are to be saved, if we truly care about our kids being blessed with a Jewish education, then the status quo is not an option.”
No holiday evokes a discussion about Jewish education more than Pesach. Jewish education is the keystone supporting the entire structure of the Seder. The Seder is deliberately, masterfully constructed on the principle of receiving, understanding and respecting the differences among our children, on stimulating curiosity, inviting questions, offering answers and teaching according to the ability of the youngster to learn.
Perhaps, at a quiet, or less noisy or particularly private moment during the Seder, we might all ask ourselves whether we are doing enough to make Jewish education affordable – whether we are doing enough to let the government of Ontario know that “the status quo is not an option.”
The Blumenfeld/Walfish article is available at: https://www.cjnews.com/perspectives/opinions/guest-voice-complacency-not-an-option-when-it-comes-to-school-funding
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Pesach Samayach