This week, the OU partnered with the Deal, NJ Jewish leadership to host a school choice leadership meeting representing over 20,000 Jewish day school students. Schools represented included those in Englewood, Teaneck, Paramus, Passaic, Clifton, Highland Park, Edison, Elizabeth, West Orange, Livingston, East Brunswick, Lakewood, Deal and Bergenfield. Over 70 school leaders participated in the discussion, which was co-hosted by the NJ Community Federation. The meeting was held at Sakar Enterprises in Edison; Sammy Saka, President of Hillel Yeshiva of Deal, chaired the event.
The focus of the meeting was on unifying the various segments of our community in the goal of lobbying our representatives for more school funding from the states. After my introductory remarks, Michael Arking of the Community Federation delivered a presentation highlighting methods for mobilization and explained how, in partnership with the OU, they translated this into $600,000 of technology funding for Jewish day schools in New Jersey. Sammy Saka discussed our plans moving forward and Josh Pruzansky, our NJ Political Director, ran a detailed Q&A session, reminding everyone that the key to success in this area is to vote.
It was especially gratifying to see our representatives from Teaneck/Englewood, Lakewood and the Syrian community, among others, joining together as “am echad b’lev echad,” a single unit with a common purpose. Two comments in particular caught my attention. One was Sammy Saka’s comment to speakers reminding them that “It’s ‘we’ tonight.” The other was the thought that, even if we accomplish nothing towards our goal of school funding, the Almighty must surely be smiling to see His children working together.
We accomplished a great deal. Nevertheless, it is always an especially warm feeling when Jews of all types unite in a spirit of brotherhood and camaraderie, especially when the goal is something as lofty and crucial as supplying the spiritual education of our future generations. A special thanks to OU President Dr. Simcha Katz and IPA Chairman Yehuda Neuberger, who both attended this meeting, for their ongoing efforts and superhuman drive to ensure tuition affordability for the Jewish people.