OU Convenes National Summit on Day School Affordability

07 Dec 2011


On Sunday and Monday, December 4-5, the Orthodox Union convened a meeting of more than 175 invited leaders representing more than 80 schools and organizations from across the spectrum of the Orthodox community to discuss the current challenge of affordability facing Jewish day schools and their parents and to seek solutions to this critical challenge.

The Summit brought together day school principals and presidents; community rabbis and lay leaders; and leaders of national organizations, Jewish Federations and foundations; all of whom engaged in plenary and breakout sessions designed to foster pragmatic plans to address affordability.

Sessions topics included addressing affordability by expanding the base of support for day schools more broadly across the Jewish community, and also by increasing the focus and efforts upon political advocacy to obtain government support for Jewish education. The Summit participants also learned about and discussed the prospects for utilizing possible alternative models – specifically charter schools and online educational resources – to explore possible cost savings in school budgets.

In addition, the OU Summit convened a special panel of leading rabbis to address the key issues of halacha that inform discussions about affordability, education, tzedaka allocation and more.

Those addressing the Summit and participating in its deliberations included:

• Ms. Rachel Abrahams, Program Officer – AVI CHAI Foundation

• Rabbi Yakov Bender, Menahel – Yeshiva Darchei Torah, New York

• Hon. Peter Deutsch, Founder – Ben Gamla Charter Schools, Florida

• Nathan Diament, Executive Director – OU Institute for Public Affairs

• Ms. Lauren Gellman, Director – Pre Collegiate Learning Center, New Jersey

• Hon. David Greenfield, Councilman – City of New York

• Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, President – Rabbinical Council of America

• Rabbi Chaim Hagler, Head of School – Yeshivat Noam, New Jersey

• Richard Joel, President – Yeshiva University

• Amy Katz, CEO – Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education

• John Kirtley, Chairman – Step Up for Students

• Rabbi Binny Krauss, Head of Lower School – SAR, New York

• Dr. Josh Levisohn, Headmaster – M.J. Berman Hebrew Academy, Maryland

• Mr. Samuel Moed, Chairman – Jewish Education For Generations, New Jersey

• Yossi Prager, Director – AVI CHAI Foundation

• John Ruskay, CEO – UJA Federation of New York

• Ms. Nicki Salfer, CEO – Virtual Schoolhouse, Ohio

• Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Kollel – RIETS

• Ms. Tzipora Schorr, Head of School – Beth Tefiloh, Maryland

• Barry Shrage, CEO – CJP of Boston

• Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice Pres. Emeritus – Orthodox Union

• Rabbi Yochanan Zweig, Rosh Yeshiva – Talmudic University of Florida

Orthodox Union president Dr. Simcha Katz stated: “The OU is committed to addressing the critical challenge of the affordability of Jewish day school education. And we want to do so in collaboration with all others – at the national and local community levels – who are similarly committed. That is why we felt it necessary, and were honored, to convene a broad group of Orthodox community leaders for this working meeting.”

Yehuda Neuberger, chairman of the OU’s Institute for Public Affairs | Jewish Political Affairs which spearheaded the Summit, added: “Obviously there is no ‘silver bullet’ solution. The OU will continue to lead efforts to address the affordability challenge, particularly via political activism. Those who joined us at the Summit have given us many more ideas and strategies for us to examine. We will do so and look forward to the work ahead in service of the community.”

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