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Nishma, a one-year-old sociological and market research firm, published a new study titled “The Nishma Profile of American Modern Orthodox Jews.” While the survey attempts to present an objective view of the Modern Orthodox community’s thoughts on religious life, the results provide instructive, and perhaps unintended, information about the respondents’ financial, rather than social or religious, concerns. Some observers have sought to focus on the answers it gives to potentially divisive questions about women in Orthodoxy, referring specifically to the “schism” about women serving as rabbis. However, the starker results of the survey reach a conclusion that, by far, unites all factions of the Modern Orthodox community. That concern is, in fact, how to support children and pay tuition for them to attend Jewish schools, how to keep kosher in a world with increasingly rising costs, and how to survive in increasingly expensive neighborhoods.
Updated: Oct. 25, 2017
Welcome to the first Prizmah edition of HaYidion! Collaboration is a natural theme to begin this new issue of HaYidion, under the auspices of Prizmah. The merger of the five organizations has unleashed creative energies, surprising synergies, and the sense of tremendous promise in the ways that we can collaborate with each other and the thousands of day school stakeholders. HaYidion itself is of course a collaboration, representing the remarkable generosity of dozens of day school stakeholders and other contributors who are willing to share their knowledge, experiences, initiatives and insights for the benefit of the larger field of Jewish education. Articles in this issue demonstrate an eagerness to embrace new educational paradigms, to rethink the foundations of day school education and revamp programs in ways large and larger, to dream big and do the patient work to follow through.
Updated: Nov. 16, 2016
Celebratng its fourth year, JCC Manhattan's Jewish Journey Project (JJP) is an innovative supplemental Jewish education program for 3rd – 7th graders based on four visionary pillars: flexibility, innovation, collaboration and community. Together with congregational partners from around the area, JJP has engaged more than 800 children and their families by using the rich and diverse history of New York City as an experiential “classroom.” Some of its most popular courses are Architecture: DIY Jewish Building, In the Footsteps of American Jewish History: A Walking Course, JJP NYC Museum Hop, and FoodCraft: The Jewish Culinary Tradition.
Updated: Aug. 03, 2016
This piece, the follow up to my recent discussion of the financial and non-financial costs of yeshiva day schools, proposes what I respectfully submit is a relatively simple and intuitive solution to this fundamental flaw in the yeshiva day school model. Put in place, it would radically alleviate yeshiva day school costs without compromising our children’s Jewish education, and potentially make that education more effective and lasting.
Updated: Jul. 27, 2016
There are many ways to view yeshiva day schools. The Orthodox community generally views them with pride, as a substantial communal achievement — and rightfully so. In less than a century, a community of largely impoverished refugees, decimated by the Holocaust, came to a foreign country and established schools that rival that country’s most elite and established schools. Almost every yeshiva day school produces graduates who attend the finest colleges and graduate schools, and their students regularly win national literary, advocacy, math and science competitions. And the sweeping success of these schools has also been religious — there are more Jewish religious studies students in America today than at any time in its history. And yet, this achievement has come at a cost, and that cost continues to be extraordinary and multifaceted. The most obvious cost is financial: it costs an extraordinary amount of money to send a child to yeshiva day school and for our community to sustain such independent schools. But there are also other, associated costs which may be less obvious than the monetary costs, but which are no less profound.
Updated: Jul. 19, 2016
Having examined many of the non-needs based day school tuition reduction programs across the country, Avi Chai has concluded that very few of the programs have led to meaningful increases in enrollment. Furthermore, in the rare cases where a school or community of schools saw a material increase in enrollment, the lower tuition levels were rarely sustainable beyond a few years. The schools were invariably forced to raise tuition at above average rates in the ensuing years. In addition, schools which presumed a high level of voluntary contributions from full-paying families were usually disappointed in the results
Updated: Feb. 25, 2015
It follows that if Modern Orthodoxy is elitist, it is also very expensive. Some writers have begun to notice as well: according to a widely-discussed article by Dmitriy Shapiro, families can find themselves struggling even with annual household incomes as high as $300,000. That such large incomes are barely sufficient is only part of a larger problem. The other side of the coin is that Orthodox parents, as stated by the OU’s Nathan Diament in the Shapiro article, are “driven to higher paying professions,” specifically law, medicine, and finance. A community that constrains the career choices of its young people incurs a cost that cannot be measured only in dollars and cents.
Updated: Feb. 25, 2015
Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit is leading the way to implement affordability models for Jewish day school education. In partnership with a major local foundation, the Hillel Tuition Grant program not only insures that tuition will never be higher than the first year a child enters Hillel, but will actually decrease in each subsequent year. This grant is directed to parents who pay full tuition because they are not eligible for tuition assistance. The grant program is for students in grades 1 – 8. Each year, through eighth grade, the value of the grant goes up by $1,000.
Updated: Feb. 04, 2015
Perhaps it is fitting that this Chanukkah issue of HaYidion is about gelt. The authors of the articles in this issue point out several significant trends and methodologies that can be helpful to schools, including information about tuition charges, working in collaborative relationships, accessing federal funds without encountering separation of church and state issues, and determining the value proposition of our schools. We believe that you will find this issue fascinating and recommend that you not put off reading it.
Updated: Jan. 05, 2015
Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC) is proud to introduce BunkConnect, an affordability initiative built on the success of FJC’s One Happy Camper program. BunkConnect is a referral program that makes finding the perfect camp easy by offering special introductory rates at participating camps for eligible families at many of the best Jewish camps across the country. Through BunkConnect, first-time campers of all Jewish backgrounds (including Jewish day school students) can choose from a variety of high quality summer experiences. The program is specifically designed for families for whom Jewish camp might not be financially feasible - including families with moderate incomes.
Updated: Dec. 21, 2014