Home July 2013 Reaching Out

Reaching Out

Everyone talks about the question of the Jewish future – the threat of assimilation, the perception that the younger generation is feeling disconnected.  There are task forces, studies, conferences all focusing on this issue.  We get mailings imploring us to support efforts to insure a Jewish future.  Many of these projects are noble and well-intended.
There is another solution; it does not take a task force or a community consensus.  There is no need for meetings that go late into the night debating strategies.  It’s simple; every one of us who cares about Judaism and the future of the Jewish people can do it.  Maybe we have a grandchild who has a limited Jewish education.  We should choose to pay the tuition of that child for an educational program such as a day school, Hebrew school or summer camp.  Maybe we know a college student who has heard about Birthright and needs a nudge to travel to Israel.  If each Jew who seeks a way to empower and encourage another Jew to make a step to connect more with tradition, the potential to touch untold numbers is remarkable.
This is, in particular, crucial at this time of year.  Parents are asking themselves about the education of their children.  Sadly, many Jewish children receive little or no Jewish education.  Studies have shown that the best option is, of course, a Jewish day school.  The balanced educational approach of Jewish and secular subjects empowers the students to function as Jews in a modern society.  The second choice is a Hebrew school.  The program of supplementary Jewish education can provide essential knowledge of tradition, Hebrew and history.
Sadly a significant percentage of Jewish children today do not attend any such program.  This emerging generation is growing up without a foundation in Judaism.  No question the disengagement of these people from Jewish life will be stronger than that of the generation that preceded them.
The solution is easy.  If each one of us would encourage a family we know whose kids are not getting a Jewish education to enroll in one of these options, we would change the destiny of untold numbers.  Our local community has created a program called a “Passport to Jewish Education.” Sponsored by the Jewish Federation & Family Services, it’s designed to financially support children who enroll in educational programs.
Let’s be honest: the issue is not always finances.  The real question is to determine our priorities in life.  The values of Judaism enrich us, and they provide us with a moral center, spiritual depth and purpose.  They link us to the thousands of years of tradition that reach back to the Mount Sinai experience when G-d gave the Torah to the Jewish people.
That chain of history is only as strong as the weakest link.  We need to insure that the next generation retains that connection to Sinai and understands the beauty of Jewish practice and belief.  That will only come about with Jewish education.  The responsibility for that is on the shoulders of each one for us, be it our own children, grandchildren or the those of a friend.  If we urge them to provide Jewish education, we can insure a Jewish future.

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