The day-school and yeshiva community has long been seeking funds from the government and secular Jewish organizations, without success. One solution to the Jewish-education-affordability dilemma is actually laid out in the Torah. We are commanded to give tzedakah and maser, 10 – 20 percent, of our wealth to Jewish education as well as other worthy causes.
In fact, the Rambam states that it is a Jew’s duty to be more scrupulous (“l’hazir“) in the performance of the mitzvah of tzedakah than any other positive commandment. (See The Laws of Tzedakah and Maaser by Rabbi Shimon Taub, Mesorah, 2001.)
How can we, on a communal basis, effectuate the mitzvot of tzedakah and maaser so that our yeshivas and day schools are securely funded and Jewish parents are given some tuition relief? Here is a three-part solution:
1) The Jewish Tax Return
The instituting of a “Jewish Tax Return” would involve knowledgeable rabbis and accountants creating a form and worksheet, not unlike IRS Form 1040, detailing income, assets, liabilities, expenses, deductions, and all other relevant financial criteria; stating an amount to be paid as tzedakah and maser, of which a substantial amount would go to Jewish education.
2) The United Yeshiva and Hebrew Day School Fund
The community needs a well-promoted Orthodox “name and address” to whom philanthropists could direct donations, such as a “United Yeshiva and Hebrew Day School Fund.” In April 2003 a report issued by the Institute for Jewish & Communal Research found that only six percent of the $5.3 billion in mega-gifts Jews donated to individual institutions between 1995 and 2000 went to Jewish institutions. A mega-gift is $10 million or more.
3) A National Association of Parents
Finally, the community needs a National Association of Yeshiva and Hebrew Day School Parents and Friends to promote the vital importance (and responsibility) of tzedakah and maaser for yeshivas and day schools.
For more information contact Elliot Pasik at firstname.lastname@example.org