The holiday of Pesach is the quintessential commemoration of Jewish history and peoplehood. Education – teaching and tender, loving hands-on instruction of children – by their parents, grandparents and other hoary heads, is the celebratory core of the holiday.
How wonderfully fitting therefore that heading into this year’s Pesach festival, the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto has taken a precedent-setting, some might even say a revolutionary step, toward making Jewish education more affordable for a large swath of middle-income families in our community.
This week UJA announced the establishment of the Generations Trust Scholarship, an innovative, thoughtful, generous system aimed at enabling more families to provide a Jewish day school education to their children.
The theory of the Scholarship “caps the cost of tuition for qualifying families with up to three children enrolled in JK to grade 8.” The scholarship is in place for the long-term, beginning in the 2021-22 school year at nine UJA-funded day schools. An anonymous calculator is in place on the Scholarship’s website to enable families quickly and with their privacy protected, to estimate their new tuition, based upon household income. We are told the calculation takes only minutes.
We urge interested or curious families to go to the UJA Federation website to check out the operation of the Generations Trust Scholarship.
The creation of the Scholarship is a watershed event. It is a huge achievement for the Toronto Jewish community and UJA Federation with the potential to secure the future of our schools and through them, the quality and vitality of Jewish life in Toronto for years to come. Equally important, not to be overlooked, every year hundreds of middle-income parents will know that the community supports them in their decision to choose high-quality day school education for their children.
UJA Federation of Greater Toronto – staff, board of directors and the donors whose funds actually give life and substance to the Scholarship – and the Julia and Henry Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Education, have fulfilled the promise that UJA President & CEO, Adam Minsky made some months ago, pre-pandemic, regarding the indispensability of Jewish education for meaningful Jewish life.
GAJE commends Federation’s forward-looking, profoundly important efforts. Indeed, in keeping with one of our tradition’s key values, hakarat hatov (acknowledging the good that others do for us) – we urge everyone whose family will benefit from the Scholarship or who understands the important, long-term implications for the long-term “Jewish viability” of our community to communicate their appreciation to the Federation and to the various school leaders and respective Heads of Education who have also championed the need to make education affordable.
To be sure, more needs to be done to make all Jewish education entirely affordable. The Generations Trust Scholarship is a radically new, positive initiative – a giant step – toward making it happen, finally.
Much beloved and renowned Rabbi Reuven Bulka of Ottawa, points out in The CJN Magazine this week that the first Passover Seder was a “planting of seeds for the future”. So too is the Generations Trust Scholarship a planting of seeds for the future. May those seeds bring forth an ever-yielding harvest of the very best of literate, committed, caring, diverse, humane, values-laden Jewish life for all generations to come.
Be safe. Be well. Shabbat shalom.
Chag Pesach Samayach. Mo’adim L’simchah.
GAJE, March 26, 2021