I read with great interest Professor Ediel Pinker’s opinion piece in the New York Jewish Week entitled, “The Case for Day Schools.”
My synagogue, the Young Israel of Hollywood- Ft Lauderdale is a vibrant, dynamic and growing Modern Orthodox community of over 500 families. Two years ago a group of our members launched the Jewish Education Fund (JEF), to do our part to “make the case.”
In recognition of the critical role that day schools play in creating Jewish community and ensuring the Jewish future, JEF seeks to support the Jewish day schools to which our synagogue’s children attend, on a pro- rata basis.
To this end, our synagogue has committed to allocating funds from the synagogue budget to JEF- that allocation has been $30,000 for the past two years.
In addition, JEF has undertaken further solicitations and this year engaged in a synagogue-wide Campaign, seeking 100% participation from our membership.
Over the past 2 years, JEF has distributed over $250,000 to the Jewish Day Schools attended by our children.
The vision of JEF is to transform the model of day school funding from mostly consumer (ie parents) to a more communal one. We believe that a communal model for day school education funding is more traditional, authentic and entrenched in Jewish values.
The halachah of supporting Jewish education can be found in the Shulchan Aruch in the Laws of Partnerships, NOT in the laws pertaining to Charity.
Just as synagogue members philanthropically support the maintenance of a daily minyan, the eruv and the mikvah- even if they do not utilize one or any of these services- so too should they view local Jewish education as a priority for their charitable giving.
We invite synagogues across the United States to adopt and replicate the JEF model community, and in so doing we will reshape the landscape of Jewish education funding in America.