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Caring About Jewish Education

The Forward’s June 14 opinion piece “Hebrew Language Charter Schools Are a Bad Bargain” fails to mention that Jewish federations maintain an unwavering commitment to hundreds of educational programs across North America, dedicating millions of dollars toward the future of our children.

In fact, despite continued economic challenges, many federations are expanding their support of Jewish day schools, which remain a cornerstone of Jewish education. The Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, for example, established a Jewish Day School Guaranty Trust Fund to ensure that every Jewish family has the opportunity to choose a day school education, regardless of financial ability or religious commitment.

In Boston, Combined Jewish Philanthropies has partnered with the Ruderman Family Foundation since 2005 to improve programs for students with special learning needs in Boston-area Jewish day schools. More than $4 million has already been distributed for school-based grants, professional development, and support of Gateways, a regional Jewish special education agency. An additional $3 million will increase the number and range of students with special needs served in area Jewish day schools by 2015.

In New York, UJA-Federation last year provided $1 million in tuition for Jewish day school and yeshiva students through its Rose Biller Day School Scholarship Fund and assisted with health care benefits for thousands of Jewish day school and yeshiva teachers.

Meanwhile, The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh recently launched a program through its Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future to provide free tuition for the 2011-2012 school year for students grades 3-11 who are new to Jewish day schools.

Federations big and small are adapting new programs across our movement. The PJ Library, an initiative of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation that provides families with free Jewish children’s books, is operating in more than 135 communities. Federations, through Taglit Birthright and Jewish camps, also provide transformative experiences that engage young Jews.

In short, Jewish federations are deeply involved in growing Jewish education for our community.

Jerry Silverman

President and CEO

Jewish Federations of North America

New York, NY

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