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2012 Convention Resolution: Tuition Affordability  
 
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May 10, 2012 -- Whereas communally funded, obligatory, local Torah education for Jewish youth has been a mark of distinction and pride for Jewish communities for 2000 years since the righteous High Priest Yehoshua ben Gamla first established it during the Second Temple period (Baba Batra 21a; Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 245:7); and

Whereas currently in the United States and Canada, the burden of funding such education falls primarily upon parents of current students in Jewish schools who often cannot afford to pay for it, in some cases creating stress which damages family and religious life; and

Whereas some parents therefore choose to forgo elementary or high school day school education for their children, thereby reducing their children's identification with the Jewish community and its values, their Torah knowledge, and their mitzvah observance as well as increasing the likelihood of their future assimilation along with their descendants; and

Whereas some Jews have fewer children due to this financial burden; and

Whereas day school enrollment has therefore begun to decline and some day schools have recently closed, thereby damaging the Jewish community’s long-term viability and vitality; and

Whereas the present economic downturn in the United States and Canada has reduced the funding available to day schools; and

Whereas Jewish law specifies that funding day schools is a responsibility not only of parents but of all members of a Jewish community including those adults - young and old, married and single, man and woman, each according to their means - who may not have children in a day school at the present time (Rema, Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 163:3);

Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America

Applauds the ongoing and recent efforts of many communal organizations, including the Orthodox Union, regarding tuition affordability; and

Calls upon local Federations and private foundations to increase funding for day schools, and urges community members to use their influence to that end; and

Recommends collaboration among all of each community’s local day schools as well as its synagogues to reduce costs, consolidate activities, and pool resources; and

Aware of the difficulty in reducing one's standard of living, nonetheless reminds parents of the sacrifices and more modest lifestyles of previous generations of American Jews which enabled them to pay for Jewish and secular educations for their children; and

Reminds all Jews – including those without children, those who have children in school, those receiving tuition assistance, and those whose descendants are no longer in schools of their halachic obligation to support yeshiva day schools in their local communities as one of their highest tzedakah priorities; and

Designates the month of Kislev surrounding the holiday of Chanukah and its celebration of Jewish identity as a month dedicated to day school education, calling upon all our members to conduct programs highlighting the importance of day school education during that month and to designate one Shabbat for a public appeal on behalf of communal schools; and

Commits to partner with other organizations actively exploring new avenues of funding day school education, including areas of increased governmental support for private schools; and

Resolves to establish a committee to formulate a detailed set of guidelines to support and, to the extent possible, unify the practices of Jewish communities towards the building and strengthening of day schools in the United States. This committee will publish a white paper to help make day school education affordable and to encourage families to see day school education as the only reasonable course for the strengthening and perpetuation of a strong, religious Jewish community in the United States.

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