October 18, 1999
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) applauds the Report of the UJC/JESNA Task Force on Jewish Day Schools, issued in June of this year, which called on federations to “unequivocally express their support for Jewish education in general, and day school education in particular, by providing increased financial resources and other forms of assistance for all types of Jewish education….” The report recognizes the critical importance of day schools in educating our community’s children, and in helping them to develop strong, positive Jewish identities. It also acknowledges the tremendous financial challenges confronted by day schools, by those Jewish families who struggle to meet annual tuition fees, and by other families for whom day school education is not even an option due to its prohibitive cost.
Perhaps most significantly, the Report emphasizes the important leadership role that local federations can and should play in helping to strengthen the day school movement in North America, and in ensuring that every Jewish family that wishes to provide its children with a day school education can do so, regardless of income. This role must be realized not only in terms of financial support. As the Report notes, the challenges faced by Jewish day schools are complex, and can not be solved merely through increased fiscal allocations. Federations are in a unique position to serve as catalysts for collaboration in facing these challenges, and to provide technical support in areas such as marketing and leadership development, which will greatly benefit local day schools. The JCPA encourages its local member agencies to assist and support federations in meeting the recommendations of the UJC/JESNA report, as they deem appropriate based on individual community needs.
At its 1998 Plenum, as part of its reaffirmation of a long-standing position in opposition to publicly funded vouchers, the JCPA stated its belief that “the responsibility for solving the crisis in Jewish education lies first and foremost within the Jewish community.” The UJC/JESNA report is an invaluable tool in guiding the federation system to be an important part of strengthening all forms of Jewish education in America and the JCPA strongly supports continental and local efforts to comply with its recommendations.