I write in support of the kehilla fund that is just getting under way throughout the Bergen County area. In fact, it’s about time.
As a father of four children – two in local yeshivot/day schools and one with special needs in Teaneck’s public school system – I have long been perplexed (even prior to the current economic crisis) about how anyone with three or four children or more earning less than $200K annually was able to pay full tuition (in after-tax dollars, no less) and still have real money left over for savings, summer camps, vacations, trips, and all of the other things that we want to do for ourselves and our families. But for a while, it seemed that most people were able to do it and I was happy that our community was able to get by. As a fund-raiser for a unique Israeli food rescue organization, I have long known that our community was, and still is, a relatively affluent one and our schools’ ability to hit their annual fund-raising and tuition income goals were good indicators of this.
With the current crisis, what was clear to me years ago is now clear to all. Simply put, we need a new approach to funding our schools. Parents will still need to pay tuition and schools will still need to fund-raise creatively via annual dinners and other means, but a third approach and viable revenue source is necessary.
I believe strongly that the kehilla fund may be that third way and hope fervently it succeeds. In fact, I hope to do more than that and have recently accepted a request by my rabbi to serve as an “implementer” for the program within our shul and local community. It is only through building real awareness of the kehilla fund within each shul (no exceptions!), a sustained marketing and awareness plan to keep it on our community’s front-burner, and some creative thinking that will attract larger donors, will the nascent kehilla fund succeed – or come close to achieving its goals.
I applaud those who have been taking a leadership role in this and look forward to working with and for them in the months ahead.