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Letters to the Editor


Funding day schools debated

With all due respect to Mordechai Ben-Dat (“Recent events show UJA failing to heed decades-old warning,” Nov. 2), his criticism regarding UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s failing day schools is unwarranted. Twenty-six per cent of federation’s budget goes to day schools, a very hefty amount, considering the huge number of agencies it supports. Do you want money taken from the poor, lsrael or the elderly, to name a few?

Day school is not the panacea to create a vibrant Jewish community. One size does not fit all. There are numerous supplementary options being developed that build Jewish community.

Please, open your minds and hearts. Many day school kids do not follow a Jewish path. There are no guarantees. There are many routes to building a vibrant Jewish community in Toronto.

Susan Steinberg

Further to Mordechai Ben-Dat’s column, one must acknowledge the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto allocates a substantial portion of its budget to Jewish education. And therefore, one may wonder, why is the system failing?

Explanations such as demographics, excellent competing public schools and lack of interest/engagement may be valid, but do not paint the full picture. The community’s and the schools’ failure to adapt to changing circumstances may be a significant contributor to the decline in attendance and consequent school closures.
Apart from the large sum of money it gives each year to the schools, the UJA has been too passive for too long. It is time for it to consider taking a strategic leadership role to ensure transparency and accountability in the system, in exchange for the considerable monetary support it gives to schools. Long-term, co-ordinated planning led by UJA is our only hope for stopping the vicious cycle we are experiencing in Jewish education.


In times of crisis, our community expects and deserves courageous and visionary leadership and the UJA must fulfil this role.

Sara Dobner
Thornhill, Ont.

Regarding the story “Associated Hebrew Schools to consolidate campuses,” (Oct. 26), this is now the third campus north of Steeles Avenue to close or downsize. Many reasons have been given that all seem to come back to money.
Yes, funding and running schools do have major costs. But it also seems that UJA Federation of Greater Toronto constantly talks about how to make day schools more affordable for the community.

It may now be time to look at the other venues for Jewish education to be encouraged and supported. Many have chosen the supplementary system and/or summer camps. I would suggest that instead of focusing all the attention on funding and filling the seats, it’s time to boost the other venues for Jewish continuity.
If you do the same thing over and over and get the same results (school closures and declining enrolment) why continue to do that? Let’s explore the after-school programs and the summer camp programs for assuring Jewish continuity.

Ira Schweitzer

Spanish linguistics revised

Jonathan Kay got his Spanish linguistic history inverted (“The long reach of the Spanish Inquisition,” Nov. 2).

“Marrano” has always meant “pig” in Spanish. So Jews were named after the pig, not the pig after the Jews. Either way, though, it could not have been meant as a compliment.

Isaac Alalouf
Mount Royal, Que.