The many op-ed pieces and letters to the editor over the last few weeks indicate a greater discrepancy than ever between the needs of the average day school parent and the cash assets/endowments of some of our larger Jewish communal organizations.
While I won’t begin to look into personal checkbooks, I can question some of our major communal organizations/foundations and wonder where they’ve been while “Joe Day School” has been struggling to make payments and stay off scholarship.
Yeshiva University, before the recession, had an endowment valued at $1.7 billion. I believe that figure has “sunk” to $1.1 billion in the last few months. Who are the feeder schools to YU? Our very own community high schools, which if they fail to solve this crisis will no longer have the bounty of children to send there. I realize that endowments are, for the most part, designated gifts and not fungible. But surely YU officials could have, and still can, find a way to free up less than 10 percent of that endowment – say $100 million, to assist in the restructuring of the day school tuition reality. Such a lofty sum would ensure that YU becomes the hero that saved the day-school crisis, able to channel – either from its own funds or through its donors – more than $3,000,000 to each of the top 33 Jewish day schools around the country. With that kind of money, our day schools could move heaven and earth in myriad creative ways! Should not the flagship academic institution of the Orthodox world, Yeshiva University, help solve the very crisis that may soon fester up to its own campus?
We as a traditional community, and here I mean both the Solomon Schechter system as well as the yeshiva day schools and high schools, have done an exemplary job of creating beautiful learning opportunities for our children. I can’t imagine any other generation having done a better job.
Let the Orthodox Union stick to kashrut and programming, allow Rabbi Shmuel Goldin to continue to inspire his kehilla, and permit local teachers and rabbis and board members not to lose sleepless nights worrying about their school’s future. Ultimately, the power-lifting becomes too much to bear. It’s time for the big boys to step up and show just how much they care.