Initially, in reading about the monumental grants made by the Jim Joseph Foundation towards Jewish education, it was most heartening to note that there still exists philanthropy of such proportions benefiting the Jewish community, even in these difficult times (“Foundation Cutting Through Wide Path In Jewish Life,” July 16).
As I continued to read, though, I became increasingly perturbed over what can best be described as a glaring omission of an organization — or more accurately, a communal force, that for nearly seven decades has occupied center stage in the field of Jewish education in North America — Torah Umesorah.
Torah Umesorah represents, and caters to the needs of, over a quarter of a million students in approximately 750 schools — at the elementary and high-school levels — and the over 5,000 educators who serve them. More significantly, perhaps, is the fact that these numbers continue to rise with each passing year. Unquestionably, to speak of Jewish education in America with no mention of the existence and landmark achievements of Torah Umesorah is impossible.
Tamar Snyder’s article (“Can Day Schools Survive?” July 23) described both some of the positives and negatives in day school education today. While the fiscal challenges were well portrayed, though, the observations regarding the impact of conventional yeshiva or day school education were misleading. It was noted that Jewish education is indeed becoming increasingly Orthodox (for example, the only rise in enrollment is among haredi institutions). Is the most logical conclusion to be drawn not that Orthodox education in general is where the community’s efforts need to be concentrated?
Moreover, Torah Umesorah also extends its efforts to the crucial area of Jewish outreach. And insofar as the Jim Joseph Foundation grants have been earmarked towards teacher training, it is nothing short of ironic that Torah Umesorah, which through its various programs trains hundreds of Jewish educators each year, should not have been given its due credit.
So, kudos to the Jim Joseph Foundation for being proactive in its desire to positively impact upon the future of the American Jewish scene. At the same time, your readers need to be edified of the singularly important role that Orthodox education and Torah Umesorah play in both the present and future of Jewish America.
Director of Publications and Communications