The article, “Can Day Schools Survive?” (July 23), raises important questions about day school finances, and as the close of the article notes, progress is beginning to be made in some places. Aside from the MetroWest, N.J. endowment discussed in the article, another example is the Chicago federation having been able to raise over $30 million for its Jewish Day School Guarantee Trust Fund, even in this economic climate.
However, the article is flawed in looking at day schools only as an economic proposition and not framing them as the high value proposition that they unquestionably are. Jewish organizations of all kinds, especially those founded by younger Jews, are disproportionately led today by day school graduates, including those from non-Orthodox day schools. These graduates are the energizing nucleus of the next generation: Jewishly literate and purposeful, carrying our collective dreams and aspirations. The affordability of day schools will depend not only on economic solutions but also on increased appreciation of the extraordinary value of a day school experience.
AVI CHAI remains committed to Jewish day school education, and it is our hope that funders will help to make scholarships available for those who wish for, but cannot afford, a day school education. If the Jewish community gains a better appreciation for day school education, perhaps greater numbers of students will attend day schools. For now, we must be satisfied with knowing that many Jewish day school graduates are helping to lead our Jewish communities, and that while day school enrollments are not yet as large as we hope, the quality among their graduates is high.
The writer is a trustee of
The AVI CHAI Foundation