Growing Jewish Education in Challenging Times

For the past few years, the cost of Jewish education in the U.S. has been at the fore-front of many communal discussions. Op-eds have appeared in numerous publications; the Jewish Federations of North America hosted a session on the subject during last fall’s GA and various conference dialogues have ensued. Discussions, and studies continue, but solutions still seem to be elusive. And, while panic has been replaced with a level of calm in the philanthropic world, the combined issues of attractiveness, accessibility, and/or affordability in Jewish education, continue to be a major topic of concern.

With the aim of propelling the discussion forward, eJewish Philanthropy and JESNA’s Lippman Kanfer Institute, invited a cross-section of communal educators and thought leaders to address the subject.

We asked of them,

“What can we and what do we need to do to make Jewish education more attractive, accessible and affordable, even under current conditions of economic pressure on both “providers” and “consumers”? How do the challenges of expanding educational participation play out today in specific arenas – day school, “complementary” education, camp, Israel education – and for specific critical populations – families with young children, teens, young adults, etc.? What new approaches are being tried and where are there signs of success? What has yet to be tried, but ought to be?”

For six weeks this Spring, we published the submissions, both here and on the JESNA website; topics ranged from day school funding to the implications of new communications technologies and the DIY culture that comes with them. On many, interesting dialogue followed. On even more, communal discussions were brought to the next level.

We’ve now gathered the analyses and proposals together in the publication below, along with the online comments of readers to several of the essays who add their own opinions to the mix.

We encourage you to use this publication to stimulate further discussion on the critical issues the essays address.

Please note: The views expressed in both the essays and the comments published reflect the views of their authors and do not necessarily reflect the thinking of the Lippman Kanfer Institute, JESNA or

Growing Jewish Education in Challenging Times (pdf)