THE PASSOVER QUESTIONS YOU NEVER THOUGHT TO ASK
By: Sarina Roffé
Six community yeshivot have joined together to issue a set of principles by which tuition assistance is granted at their schools. Along with Albert Laboz and Daniel J. Harari, the President and Vice President of Project Education, the presidents of each school board signed a document entitled “Community-Wide Tuition Assistance Principles,” which outlines the specific qualifications.
The yeshivot have agreed to use a Universal Application to make it easier for families with children in more than one school to apply. Elliot Horowitz, Treasurer of Project Education, worked diligently on the Universal Application and is gratified that Yeshivah of Flatbush, Magen David Yeshivah, Hillel, YDE and Ilan High School will be using it shortly. The Community-Wide Tuition Assistance Principles and the Universal Application are being distributed by the schools for the 2016-2017 school year.
“Each school had a different application and it made the process very confusing for parents,” said Albert Laboz. “By having one Universal Application, the same application can be used in more than one school. We also have a fillable pdf on www.projectedu.org.”
Project Education has been taking the lead in working with the schools on the tuition assistance issue. The application process and the principles by which tuition assistance is given guide the schools with a common set of values that ensure tuition assistance is provided equitably and is based on a sense of fairness.
“Families that apply for tuition assistance need to be treated with dignity and respect, irrespective of family circumstances. By agreeing to work within the principles set forth by Project Education, the schools have guidelines, as do the families,” said Laboz.
The establishment of Project Education addresses a very common occurrence – financial help given by extended family in regards to tuition. Grandparents assisting with payment is unfair to other families, who make sacrifices to pay tuition and do not have extended family to rely on for such expenses. Now, these families can find help in this organization.
There are some caveats to the arrangement, though. Families receiving assistance are asked to be considerate. There is a dissonance, after all, in a family driving an expensive car or going on a luxury vacation and then getting tuition assistance from Project Education. Both the yeshivot as a whole and struggling families in particular have expressed the belief that this way of life is unfair. Project Education agrees: “Family values need to prioritize education first,” said Laboz. “If grandparents want to help, we ask that they consider helping their children with tuition. Theschools, in turn, are asked to treat parents with compassion and respect.”
Project Education specifically avoids use of the term “scholarship” in its materials. “Scholarship implies the schools are giving you an award which does not need to be paid back,” said Mr. Laboz. “In the Community-wide Tuition Assistance Principles, we let families know that if their financial circumstances change, they need to prioritize donating to the school in their charitable giving.”
Providing children with a Jewish education is a hesed, an act of loving kindness. The goal of Project Education is to find solutions that will alleviate the tuition burden felt by nearly half of the families in our community. Each one of us has a financial obligation to support our community schools. Doing so strengthens the educational system and ensures that our children will grow up with a firmly entrenched set of Jewish values. Those involved in our community's schools are helping to make a positive difference. They take pride in their activism, and know that our children benefit as a result.
Our yeshivot are vital to our community’s success. They teach our children, impart our Sephardic values, and prize our religion. A Jewish education is the single most important value we can stress as a community to ensure that our children don’t stray from tradition. It is, without a doubt, an investment – not only in their individual futures, but in the future of the community as a whole.