Earlier this month, a family of philanthropists in Chicago, owners of homes for the aged in the area, announced a “ground-breaking, cross generational effort totalling $11 million to support and sustain Jewish day school education across the Chicago Jewish community.”
Whenever private and communal support of Jewish education is so publicly championed, irrespective of the locale, it is important that the news reach as wide an audience as possible in the hope that other generously inclined individuals and families will be inspired to follow the example.
Structured as endowments, the funds comprise an allocation of $11 million over a five-year period to three Chicago-area schools: The Associated Talmud Torahs’ REACH program, Solomon Schechter Day School of Metropolitan Chicago (SSDS), and Chicago Jewish Day School (CJDS). The funding is intended “to maximize each institution’s impact and ensure their long-term sustainability.”
In explaining the reason for his family’s donation, Alan Caplan, said “the Hebrew words l’dor v’dor are literally inscribed into the doors at Park Plaza (Home for the Aged). “From generation to generation; that’s what we believe in, as individuals and as part of the Jewish community, and that’s exactly what this gift is: a gift that gives from one generation to the next, and the next after that.”
Caplan succinctly captured the importance of funding Jewish education by describing education as the anvil on which the links of Jewish life connecting one generation to the next – l’dor v’dor – are eternally forged.
In expressing her school’s gratitude for the funding gift, Judy Finkelstein-Taff, Head of School of the Chicago Jewish Day School, described further the trans-generational significance and beauty of Jewish education: “It seems very poignant to me as we look at the cycle of our lives and think about how we stand on the shoulders of the ones who came before us. We educate our students to celebrate the diversity of their present, and our students become the next generation of shoulders for their children to stand on. This gift will not only ensure the future of our school, but in a sense, it is ensuring the future of the Jewish people.”
If it is true that imitation is the highest form of compliment, we hope there will be local philanthropists of equal mind, heart and caring for the future of the Jewish people to pay high compliments to the Caplan family of Chicago!