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Day of Giving – A community’s response to Jewish day school education

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Photo Courtesy UJA Federation of Greater Toronto

For over 100 years, Jewish day school education has shaped the face of Toronto Jewry into what it is today, one of the strongest Jewish communities in the world. But this didn’t happen by accident. It happened because of a shared commitment to the critical importance of Jewish education. From generous donors and visionary leaders to dedicated staff and passionate volunteers, we understood that a strong Jewish community required a strong and thriving Jewish education system.

On March 19, the Toronto Jewish community will once again rally together for Jewish education in an annual Day of Giving. All UJA Federation-affiliated day schools across the city will unite students, teachers, alumni, administrators, parents, grandparents and friends of schools in a singular goal of raising millions of dollars.

This initiative, now in its third year, has been led by numerous heads of schools who recognized that the Jewish day schools within our city need to work together, despite their diverse philosophies, to raise greater funds to meet the challenges of the rising costs of tuition. Rabbi Dr. Seth Grauer, Rosh Yeshiva and head of the Bnei Akiva Schools, says, “The Day of Giving is about harnessing our collective strength and uniting over our communal responsibility to provide Jewish children with a rich and robust Jewish education. “We know that Jewish day school graduates engage in significantly higher levels of community contribution through volunteerism and communal leadership roles, so there is tremendous value to the entire community in ensuring the long-term strength of our schools.”

Eric Petersiel, head of School at Leo Baeck adds, “In over 20 years as a Jewish educator I have never seen a more powerful expression of our communal drive toward a singular goal than the Day of Giving. The event highlights the sublime power of day school to shape the soul of a Jewish child, and to raise the future leaders of our community, no matter how one practices Judaism or the school they choose to attend. That is an impressive statement about what matters to this community and one for which I am proud to stand.”

This year’s theme, Day School Impact, recognizes that a single donation can make a significant impact for each school. Using a crowdfunding approach, The Day of Giving enables the donor to have their gift matched up to four times by philanthropic donor families. These donors act as catalysts to stimulate charitable giving amongst community members, inspiring them to give generously.

One of the campaign’s major gift donors, Wendy Eisen, says “Jewish education is vital to the Jewish survival of future generations. Unlike any other experience, Jewish day school imbues youngsters with the richness of our history, traditions, holidays and prayer in a warm, nurturing setting. It fosters a strong sense of Jewish values, continuity and identity.”

In its first year, Day of Giving raised more than $1 million with nine participating schools. Last year, Day of Giving garnered the attention of more than 4,500 donors, with gifts coming in from as far as Australia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and Israel. Growing each year, 15 day schools are now participating and have set a collective goal of raising over $3 million.

More information about Day of Giving can be found at  www.dayschoolimpact.com.