Wednesday, December 24, 2014 Tevet 2, 5775

Inspiring Literate Jews

February 24, 2011
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It's no secret that without Jewish education, the future of Jewish life could well be doomed. Which is why we welcome two developments that can serve our community's myriad ways of growing literate Jews.

The first piece of good news is a promising initiative that will take a hard look at the financial health of our area day schools. (See story on page 6.) The $720,000 project partners two major foundations on the day-school scene -- the national Avi Chai Foundation and the local Kohelet Foundation -- with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and Yeshiva University.

It comes at a time when day schools everywhere are facing enormous challenges in meeting escalating costs, in raising funds and in providing sorely needed scholarships to maintain and expand their student base.

As Susan Kardos at Avi Chai put it, the future of day schools is at stake. No matter how good a school is, she said, "it won't serve its purpose if no one can afford to attend or the institution doesn't remain financially viable."

There is no question that day schools should be more affordable for those families that desire it.

But we also know that day schools are not -- and never will be -- for everybody. Which is why other forms of Jewish education -- from supplementary synagogue programs to Jewish camping to Israel experiences -- are also critical pieces of the education puzzle.

Yet creating and inspiring literate Jews is not just about children. Programs aimed at Jewish adults are just as vital, especially at a time when an increasing number of adults have so little Jewish knowledge.

For this reason, LimmudPhilly, a relative newcomer on the local educational scene, provides an important gateway for those testing and experimenting with Jewish learning.

Its flagship event, the Limmud "learningfest" -- slated for March 4-6 -- is now in its third year, offering a taste of Jewish learning that hopefully will lead to hunger for more.

Day schools and Limmud offer opposite ends of the educational continuum -- from total immersion to a quick shot. In between are the scores of Jewish classes, programs and workshops offered each week by synagogues, JCCs and countless other local organizations.

In the quest for Jewish knowledge, there can never be enough opportunities.

The challenge is finding the much-needed resources to develop and sustain these programs, and the ingenuity and creativity to make these educational options appealing to the next generation of families and young adults as they make life-changing choices for their children and themselves.

Let the learning abound.

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