Sunday, June 21st, 2009
Some Jewish leaders were initially uneasy about pressing for homeland security money from the federal government to protect Jewish schools, synagogues and other institutions, but that unease has largely evaporated - in part because of the incredible success of the effort to make sure Jewish groups get their fair share - and then some - of the money, in part because of recent incidents involving such institutions.
Riverdale Jews wanted to do something in reaction to the terrorist plot to blow up two shuls — but what? If you weren’t a rabbi or a politician getting your picture taken, the interfaith gathering (May 21) at Riverdale Jewish Center was as much of a dud as the fake bombs. On the other hand, no one really wanted to have a outdoor rally with speakers and placards. Someone suggested a candelight vigil, or community march, such as black leaders organized the other week after the accidental shooting of a black policeman. The black leaders understood that a communal display of unity and dignity was not only a tribute to the deceased but a statement of caring that would get media reaction, as well as giving a traumatized neighborhood inspiration, a sense of community, and something to do — if only to walk.
Monday, May 11th, 2009
If you thought the issue of school vouchers for parents whose kids attend private and parochial schools would fade away now that the Democrats control both the White House and Congress, guess again.
Last week President Obama announced a proposal that would allow a controversial Washington, DC voucher program that has divided Jewish groups to keep its funding for now but not provide money for new students.
People who once quietly murmured about the tuition crisis are now shouting. Many who once casually flirted with the idea of putting their children in public school are filling out the paperwork.
In the best economic times it was difficult for Jewish families to find $30,000-$40,000 to educate their kids Jewishly full-time. Now it’s become the Herculean task that some are staring to see as Sisyphean.
Trekking through ice-coated fields in a brutally cold Russian October, Lt. Arthur Wollschlaeger pressed on, as he and his swastika-emblazoned companions conquered the western Russian city of Orel — another victory for the unrelenting German Werhmacht infantry. He had earlier taken part in invasions of Poland, Holland and France — a World War II military career that began when he first entered the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland, in 1938.
When Caryn Aviv became pregnant with her daughter three years ago, she immediately decided that it was time to go “shul shopping” and began to scour Denver for a place where she would be comfortable as a Conservative-raised, openly gay, professional mom.
The Jewish Week’s Carolyn Slutsky reports this week on efforts by the Orthodox Union to address the crisis facing yeshivot during the worsening recession. Ideas include starting a national health insurance fund for teachers that, with an estimated 3,000 members, would have a lower premium than most yeshiva plans and wrangling funds for Jewish education via vendors and shul donations.
Monday, February 16th, 2009
James Besser in Washington
Just catching up with the blogs after a few days away from the keyboard, and found some good reading waiting for me.
Lots of interesting commentary on last week’s Israeli election, which settled nothing except for the fact there will now be weeks, maybe months, of jockeying, horse trading and mind-bending spin.
It’s all too easy to complain about the cost of tuition, but it’s important to look at both sides of the issue. JTA’s Jacob Berkman has an excellent piece on the angst of yeshivas and day schools as they cope with skyrocketing costs and increasing demand for scholarships.
The crisis moved the Orthodox Union to hold a recent seminar to search for solutions.