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Yesterday we had our first Virtual Assembly Session “The Jewish Communal Responsibility for Education.” For those who were unable to make it, after the jump are the webinar’s description and a few of the many things that struck me (all are paraphrased unless otherwise noted). I encourage you to listen to the entire recording and leave your thoughts in the comments.

–Matt Brown

What role does the community have in securing Jewish education for students who can’t afford it? Based upon Professor Jack Wertheimer’s provocative article in the March issue of Commentary, “The High Cost of Jewish Living,” this Virtual Assembly Session addresses loaded topics and preview the community-level thinking that will be a key component of the 2010 Assembly.

Featuring Jack Wertheimer, Professor of American Jewish History at the Jewish Theological Seminary; Meyer Denn, Executive Director of the Center for Jewish Education in Dallas; and Jaynie Schultz, Director of the Howard and Leslie Schultz Family Foundation. Hosted by PEJE Executive Director Rabbi Josh Elkin.


Jack Wertheimer

  • There’s a much greater emphasis today on Jewish education than any other point in Jewish American History.
  • This is a time of austerity, so there are fewer children enrolled in JDS, primarily from non-Orthodox schools.
  • The Jewish community needs to obtain as much government funding as possible (and rethink categorical opposition to Church/State separation).
  • Part of our communal obligation is to bring supporters who aren’t day school parents into the fold.
  • We have to take care of our own.

Jaynie Schultz & Meyer Denn, on the communal fund in Dallas

  • Put the schools together and give them a community platform on which to solve their problems.
  • About 50% of the donors to the Dallas communal fund are not JDS parents.
  • “They don’t believe in Jewish day school per se but they believe in community. It would not have worked if it were just one school.”

Karla Smith of Contra Costa Jewish Day School, on the results of cross-school collaboration

  • Schools on the San Francisco East Bay used to apply for federation allocations separately and would get the least percentage. Once they applied together, the ranking jumped to the top.

Kim Hirsch of UJC of MetroWest NJ, on reaching out to Jewish donors who don’t support Jewish causes

  • “You have to make a more compelling case. Think like the big hospitals and museums.”