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Letter: Without Jewish education, what Jewish future?

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Joe Lodge FLICKR

We are parents of a Grade 11 student at the Anne and Max Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto’s Kimel campus (TCK) and of a Grade 7 student at Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto, who’d been planning to attend TCK in 2018. We are extremely disappointed with the board of TanenbaumCHAT’s response to a recent parent-led proposal to keep the campus open. 

We take issue with the following answers provided by the board:

1. The board expects the Save TCK! parent committee to address the long-term financial stability of the school and to achieve the latter in a reasonable time frame. It took eight years for the board to assemble what it calls an “excellent” administrative team to take the school down. How much time do they feel is reasonable to repair the damage? We barely got three weeks’ notice about the closure, having been notified on March 6.  It is easier to destroy than to rebuild.

READ: MUSINGS ON A SHUTTERED JEWISH HIGH SCHOOL

2. The Save TCK! committee called for $3-million to be raised from larger donors, in addition to a grassroots fundraising campaign. The board expressed that it was uncomfortable with the conditions attached to this proposal, including the anticipated influence of donors in matters that have normally fallen within the exclusive purview of the school board and administration.

As parents who have been paying either full or partial tuition for so many years (we are in our 11th year, with five more to go), we feel entitled to know where the money goes, especially if we’re prepared to donate thousands of dollars on top of tuition to keep the school open. It seems the board would be happy to take our donations but still want to give the administration carte blanche to the administration to spend that money as they wish. In any scenario, accountability is key to any enterprise, and a school should be no exception.

READ: AT CHAT TOWN HALL, PARENTS AND STUDENTS ANGRY THEY KEPT IN DARK

3. The board claims to have full confidence in the so-called “excellent” administrative team. Based on what? Financial results? Fundraising results? Enrolment results? Our definition of excellence is success. How come the Board has full confidence in those responsible for eight years of failure but cannot give any chance to those interesed in reversing a bad situation?

Our concern is not just for our own children. Our two younger kids will do fine on the TanenbaumCHAT southern campus. We’re concerned for those Jewish families who live further north. As a community, we should feel defeated on behalf of every child that will end up in public school because their family lives too far from TanenbaumCHAT south.

We should feel a sense of failure for every Jewish child who will no longer have access to a Jewish high school education because of poor financial planning – or worse, poor management of available resources. From a selfish perspective, we could happily just take the tuition cut and send our children to the school’s southern campus. As Jews part of a larger community, however, we feel a duty to do whatever it takes to ensure a brighter future for younger generations of Jews. And without a Jewish education, there isn’t much of a Jewish future.