Hillel Rapp has identified a serious impediment to solving the tuition crisis—namely, the spiraling costs incurred by day schools. This, according to Rapp, is caused in large measure by the pressure to raise the costs ever higher in an ongoing effort to attract more donations.
On Tuesday, June 20, the Toronto Jewish community joined together in a wonderful display of Jewish unity. Nine Jewish schools, each with its own ideological bent, “Rose Up” together in a one-day drive to try and raise one million dollars for Jewish education. Each school set its own goal and donors could choose the school to which to dedicate their money. With all donations going through one centralized website, the subsequent communal buzz helped all of the nine schools meet their target. All in all, 2,431 donors raised over 1.9 million dollars for Jewish education in one day.
First it was Leo Baeck, then it was TanenbaumCHAT and now it is Associated Hebrew Schools. Three Jewish day schools with a combined enrollment of over 3,000 students have, within the last six months, announced plans to close one of their branches. This may be shocking, but it is not at all surprising. Like the financial crisis of 2008, the signs of collapse were manifest for years, but were missed – or should we say ignored – until almost overnight, the “bubble burst”.
Thank you! The Toronto Jewish community owes a tremendous collective thank you to the Jesin-Neuberger family for their ten million dollar gift, and to an anonymous donor for their gift of five million dollars. Fourteen million of these dollars will go to reducing tuition at TanenbaumCHAT by over 1/3 for the next five years, making it the largest single gift dedicated to tuition reduction ever made to Jewish education in Canada.
One of the aspects of teaching I enjoy greatly is parent-teacher meetings. Beyond friendly chatter the meetings afford, it is important for us to meet those who raise our students and are ultimately responsible for their education. We teachers are agents of and partners with the parents in the holy task of educating precious children. “’Vshinantem lebanecha, and you shall teach your children’ – these are your students,” declare our Sages.
For thousands of children, not to mention parents, the day after Labour Day marks the unofficial end of summer. The long lazy summer days of camp, vacation, and sleeping in abruptly come to an end as the new school year begins. Car pools, lunch, homework, tests and, most importantly, formal learning become the new norm.
The current model of day school funding where tuition is charged for each and every student is clearly broken. Tuitions have been rising at 2-3 times the level of inflation for years squeezing out the middle class and beyond and leading to declining enrolments and even school closures.
I write these words from Israel on the eve of Yom Hazikaron, the saddest day of the year as we remember the 23,447 casualties of war and terrorism; immediately followed by Yom Ha’atzmaut, perhaps the happiest day of the year. This roller coaster of emotions is reflective of Jewish history with its tragedies and moments of triumph. It is in Israel where tomorrow’s Jewish history is being made today. It is only here that Judaism is more than a religion – it is a way of life for a re-born nation.