Working together to conquer the challenges

Some three decades ago, after worrisome revelations about the state of American Jewry, most community leaders, planners arrived at the conclusion that the most effective way – though not the only way – to ensure Jewish continuity and Jewish engagement was through sustained, intense Jewish education.

As a result, especially for the past two decades across North America – as readers of this weekly update know – the affordability and sustainability of Jewish education has been one of the key subjects on Jewish communal agendas.

Thankfully, our UJA Federation understands the connection between widely accessible Jewish education and a widely secured Jewish future. And as readers of this update also know, it has recently implemented a new scholarship mechanism that will assist many middle-income families to send their children to Jewish elementary schools. Indeed, the forward-looking policies of the Federation were noted in an article by Deanne Weiss Etsekson posted on the eJewishPhilanthropy website.

In the article, entitled The High Cost of School: Buying down day school tuition for the Jewish future, Etsekson, describes an experiment conducted in a Jewish day school in Seattle some 25 years ago that proved empirically the direct relation between reduced school tuitions and higher school enrollments. Of course, we in the GTA, have known about this relationship for many years.

It is to call attention to her concluding remarks that I mention Etsekson’s essay.

“As we look to our future, both for day schools in our communities and the children who attend them, we must re-examine and celebrate this tremendous success for Jewish continuity [the five-year experiment at a small Seattle high school] while working together and conquering the challenges of financial sustainability.

The key phrase that we emphasize is “while working together and conquering the challenges of financial sustainability.” It surely applies to us and to our community as well at this moment in our history. Despite the creation by UJA Federation of the innovative and generous Generations Trust Scholarship, we all know that much more needs to be done to bring down the cost of school tuition.

But it is not for the UJA Federation alone to help “conquer the challenge”. It for all of us in the community who truly care about securing a strong, diverse, caring, creative, meaningful Jewish future for our children in perpetuity.

In this vein, and fully in the spirit of all of us working together, GAJE has engaged the services of an expert team of lawyers headed by renowned human rights activist and constitutional specialist, David Matas, to end Ontario’s discriminatory educational funding policies. The lawyers are essentially giving of their time and expertise on a pro bono basis. To help fund the modest fee for their services and the unavoidable expenses and disbursements, GAJE will soon be asking readers of this update and all other interested individuals to help us – to contribute to the legal challenge. Charitable tax receipts will accompany each contribution. In the next few weeks, we will publish the details of how you can help. We thank you, in advance.


Etsekson’s article is available at:


Be safe. Be well.

Shabbat shalom. 

GAJE, April 23, 2021

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