It is an anniversary worth noting. At least we believe so. Some seven years ago, Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE) was formed.
On April 24, 2015, GAJE published its Mission Statement, the core statement of which is “to make Jewish education in our community affordable for every family that wishes to send its children to a Jewish day school.”
That founding document was a plea to the community. We pointed out that “tuition for Jewish day school education in our community was unconscionably high.” At the time, elementary school tuition ranged around $15,000-plus per student per year. High school tuition approached $30,000 per student per year. When added to the onerous costs of home ownership and maintaining a Jewish household and Jewish way of life in a Jewish neighbourhood, the additional burden of paying educational fees was breaking the economic backs of many of our young families.
The combined financial burden upon our young families had resulted in a steady decline in enrollment in our schools.
Since those days in 2015, however, there has been a sea change in our community’s approach to responding to the affordability crisis – far reaching, creative, novel, generous and precedent-setting – that has helped achieve a steady increase over the past four years in enrollment in our community’s Jewish schools.
GAJE’s philosophy seven years ago to “conscripting” wide participation in the cause of helping make Jewish education more affordable was straightforward. It remains unchanged today. “We will extend a hand to everyone who might want to be part of the solution. We will not point fingers at anyone. By widening the group of the solution-seekers, we increase the possibilities of finding new ideas and new thinking about funding and especially new people to become involved with their energy, commitment and resources.
“By striving to make Jewish education more affordable, we fulfill a moral obligation to our community and a historic obligation to the wider Jewish people.”
“The status quo is an affront to conscience. Inaction is not an option. Nor is failure.”
To its great credit, our community rejected the status quo. The impact of a series of community decisions and initiatives does indeed bring us closer to wide day school affordability. But we are not there yet. Nor have we given up the fight. GAJE may be marking its seventh year, but we have not rested. It is our fervent hope and prayer that at the next seven year anniversary, if not well before, the cost of Jewish education in our community will be truly affordable for all parents who seek it for their children.
As readers of this weekly update know, GAJE has launched an application to try to bring fairness and equity to the Government of Ontario’s education funding. Both respondents, Ontario and Canada, have brought motions to strike our application. If they are successful, our case will be stopped in its tracks before the courts have had an opportunity to consider the application in full, unless of course, we appeal the ruling on the motion and succeed in our appeal. If we are successful, then the next step will be to proceed to the hearing of the application. The motions are expected to be heard later this summer.
If you wish to contribute to the funding of GAJE’s lawsuit to achieve fairness and justice in education funding in Ontario, please click here.
For further information, please contact Israel Mida at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Charitable receipts for donations for income tax purposes will be issued by Mizrachi Canada. Your donations will be used for the sole purpose of underwriting the costs of the lawsuit.
Chag samayach. Shabbat shalom.
Grassroots for Affordable Jewish Education (GAJE),
April 21, 2022