No one disputes that if a free, high-quality Jewish education were available for all young families that seek it, tens of thousands of children would enroll. Despite this, America’s Jewish leadership continues with business as usual. There has not been one national rabbinic convention convened solely to address the crisis of funding Jewish education. There has not been one Jewish Federation that has accepted the mandate of funding day school scholarships for all Jewish children in its community.
In many ways, the Jewish community is like a ship. If some of the passengers are sinking, we all sink with them. Jewish continuity is a collective enterprise. We should not act like the people on the upper deck, oblivious to what is happening around us, as if nothing matters unless it impacts us immediately and directly.
For 2,000 years, the entire Jewish community obligated itself to pay for the schooling of all its children. But in 21st century America, this communal social contract has unraveled. We, the wealthiest Jewish community in history, have abandoned our children.
Until we accept the fundamental proposition that funding Jewish education for all our children is every community’s fiscal obligation, any other use of our communal money is tantamount to futilely rearranging deck chairs on a sinking ocean liner as the ship’s band plays on.