‘Now more than ever, fight for Jewish education’

Many professional and lay observers have noted how much more effectively day schools responded to the pandemic educational upheaval than did public schools. In last week’s update we mentioned that three major media outlets reported on the swift, substantive pivot of the day schools to the educational modifications compelled by Covid-19. After the initial Covid-imposed school closing shocks, day schools marshalled their individual and collective resources, innovated, created, revised, refined and adjusted to the new lockdown rules.

The response of the overall day school system points to its excellence.

Last week, Rabbi Elchanan Poupko a teacher in the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Park East Day School in New York City, published an article of unabashed tribute in The Forward about day schools especially in relation to their response to Covid. Entitled, ‘Jewish day schools must be the most appealing option by leaps and bounds’, Rabbi Poupko also commented upon the absolute importance of Jewish day schools for any meaningful Jewish future. It is for this reason that we call attention to his article.

He recalls a statement about Jewish education made by late Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir to his grandfather: “Next to the security and the support of the State of Israel, I consider the all-day Jewish school as the most vital concern of American Jews. Only this type of education can and will guarantee Jewish survival and Jewish continuity — without it our hopes are uncertain.”

Some years later the Foreign Minister of the State of Israel echoed Prime Minister Meir when he told The Canadian Jewish News that the most effective way Canadian Jews could support and strengthen Israel and indeed, Jews around the world was to raise knowledgeable, caring Jews.

To do this, Jewish education is imperative.

Rabbi Poupko writes “now more than ever is the time to make all-day Jewish schools our number one priority — for children’s sake, and for the future’s sake. Now more than ever is the time to fight for Jewish education.”

But while he champions Jewish education, Rabbi Poupko is not oblivious to the economic wreckage wrought by the pandemic upon families and communities. Despite the economic situation however, he forcefully pleads for Jewish education to be affordable.

GAJE emphatically supports Rabbi Poupko’s plea.

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In relation to Rabbi Poupko’s plea for making Jewish education affordable, we remind readers that UJA Federation has recently announced three programs aimed at helping make education affordable: interest-free loans, emergency scholarships and a tuition assistance program.

Information about the programs is available on our website at https://gaje.ca/covid-19-relief/ or by contacting UJA Federation at 416.635.2883 or at koschitzkycentre@ujafed.org.

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