We need to create better programs for our post-high school, college, and post-college students, but first we need to create the students who can people them.
It is not that these programs could not be created with the students we already have – that male graduates of coed day schools already have access is proof enough of that. But without a need which is obvious and pressing, without numbers, without working to improve our Torah learning culture from the bottom up – for both boys and girls – nothing will change.
Fix our community one student at a time.
Tell stories to a five-year-old. Practice her reading.
Ask a nine-year-old what she’s learning.
Celebrate with a twelve-year-old her first Rashi, her first sugya, her first perek, her first glorious tastes of gemara.
Encourage a fourteen-year-old to go learn for the summer.
Help a sixteen-year-old learn to research independently.
Be the chavrusa a lonely eighteen-year-old needs in college.
Share your halachic and communal knowledge with a later beginner.
Gather to yourself those who thirst for learning. Give them the sweet water of Torah.
Someday we can come before those who have mocked us with cartloads of students and attain their grudging admission that these students are worth their weight in gold. Someday we can turn to those who have scorned our students and say, “This is the people whom you have scorned; go out now and do battle with it.”