(JTA) — Citing “a major crisis in Jewish education,” Israel’s Diaspora ministry plans to pour about $40 million into training educators at Jewish schools in the United States and Canada.
Amichai Chikli, Israel’s minister of Diaspora affairs, announced the initiative, called “Aleph Bet” after the first two letters of the Hebrew alphabet, on Monday. He hopes enrollment will increase at Jewish day schools, fearing that “we are losing large parts of the Jewish people,” and said the initiative would “focus on training teachers for Jewish education and Israel studies as well as principals for Jewish day schools,” according to the Jerusalem Post.
Chikli did not elaborate on how his ministry would spend the allocation of NIS 150 million, nor did he detail when funds could start making their way into North American Jewish schools. His office did not respond to a request for comment. Israel’s governing coalition plans to approve a state budget next week, ahead of a May 29 deadline.
North American Jewish schools have received varying levels of Israeli government support for years, according to Paul Bernstein, CEO of Prizmah, a nonprofit supporting Jewish day schools. He said staff members of day schools were optimistic about the additional funding despite lacking details about where it would go.
“There’s quite a lot of chatter. People are excited by the fact that the State of Israel really sees the importance of Diaspora education, and is recognizing that the strength of the Diaspora is integral to [a] strong Israel and strong relationships,” Bernstein said. “Irrespective of all that’s going on in the world, that is a very positive and important long-term development.”
The announcement comes at a time of tension between Israel’s right-wing governing coalition and North American Jewish communities. A chorus of U.S. Jewish leaders has criticized the government’s proposed overhaul of Israel’s judiciary, and last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a speech at a signature conference of North American Jews in Tel Aviv in the face of anti-government protests. Chikli, who assumed his role in January, has defended the judicial overhaul while acting as an ambassador of sorts to an often skeptical audience of Diaspora Jews.
Chikli, whose father is a Jewish educator in Mexico, had previously indicated that he sees Jewish day schools abroad as an important destination for Israeli aid. He has said repeatedly — including on Monday — that children who do not attend Jewish day schools are at risk of being lost to the Jewish people.
“We are in the midst of a crisis where it is possible to lose an entire generation of Jews,” he said during the funding announcement.
Early in his tenure, Chikli floated the idea of working with philanthropists to subsidize day school tuition in the Diaspora. More recently, he has signaled that covering tuition — which can range from several thousand dollars at haredi Orthodox yeshivas to more than $40,000 a year — is less of a priority.
“Jewish education in private schools is very expensive, and at times out of range for the average family,” he told Hamodia, a haredi publication, in April. “This is where we step up to the plate. This isn’t to say we’re giving out free scholarships … but we invest, as noted earlier, in the teachers, in the school systems, to ensure Jewish education, and continuity of Jewish generations. We want to raise the pride of Jewish studies teachers.”
Attending a Jewish school is widely considered a strong predictor of lasting Jewish identity, although that may be because parents who prioritize Jewish identity are more likely to send their children to Jewish day school. Enrollment in Jewish schools in North American Jewish schools is growing, largely because of the growth of Orthodox communities, where the vast majority of children attend private Jewish schools.
Outside of those communities, most North American Jewish children do not attend Jewish day schools. But the pandemic saw Conservative, Reform and nondenominational day schools grow as well, according to a survey by Prizmah, following more than a decade of decline. The survey found that schools have maintained those enrollment gains even as the pandemic has ended.
Meanwhile, Hebrew schools and other supplemental Jewish schools have shrunk by nearly half since 2006, according to a recent report by the Jewish Education Project. Chikli did not specify whether any of the new funding could go to such schools
Chikli’s father, Eitan Chikli, is the rector of the Hebraic University in Mexico City, which receives some funding from his son’s ministry. Previously, he was the longtime director general of Israel’s TALI Education Fund, which promotes pluralistic Jewish education in Israeli schools and also produces materials for use in Jewish schools abroad.
The elder Chikli told the Jerusalem Post in January that he would not discuss the funding his university receives with his son, who he said is fastidious about avoiding conflicts of interest. But he said that teacher training was an urgent problem for Jewish schools.
“The biggest problem Jewish people in the Diaspora face today is Jewish education and lack of a high level of teachers for Judaic studies,” Eitan Chikli said in January. “The most difficult problem is that there is no new generation of proper teachers for Hebrew and Judaism.”
The post Israel to invest $40 million in North American Jewish day schools appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.