Jewish Education

Torah -- Jewish learning -- lies at the core of Jewish life. The command to teach our children is contained in the Sh’ma, Judaism’s most sacred prayer. Throughout Jewish history, every Jewish community has taken this obligation to heart, building schools for the young and honoring those who devote their lives to learning and teaching. Jewish Federations continue this tradition today.

Federations provide tens of millions of dollars annually to support Jewish educational programs and services through schools, synagogues, Central Agencies for Jewish Education, Jewish Community Centers, Hillels, youth movements, and summer camps. Federations also sponsor and support Jewish education classes and programs for thousands of Jewish adults of all ages and backgrounds.

Federations work in partnership with vigorous national agencies including the Jewish Education Service of North America, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and the Jewish Community Centers Association to make Jewish renaissance a reality.

Responding to the recommendations of a joint JFNA- JESNA Special Task Force, Federations are increasing their support to Jewish day schools. The dramatic growth of Jewish day schools from 188,000 students at 600 schools today makes it incumbent upon Federations to partner with others to expand the financial resources available for schools to pursue quality in both Judaic and general studies, keep tuition affordable, and recruit and prepare the personnel needed to ensure that day schools thrive.

Federation-supported JCC's provide a rich Jewish learning experience through early childhood programs for almost one-third of all North American Jewish children ages three to six and their families.

The Federation system helps make it possible for thousands of youth each year to explore their Jewish identities in Israel. birthright Israel, an initiative to bring young people for a first, organized educational experience in Israel through generous financial gifts from Federations and other private and public sources, sent 8,000 college and high school students on a variety of programs in 1999 and another 10,000 in Winter 2000.

More than 400 colleges and universities are home to Jewish Federation-supported Hillel Foundations and other Hillel affiliates. Federation-sponsored programs help at-risk students stay in school and prepare for college and careers.

With funds from Federations, the Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee support youth camps, Jewish kindergartens, day schools, Hebrew and Sunday schools, teacher training programs, Hillel centers, Jewish academic conferences, Jewish courses at universities, synagogue programs, Jewish libraries and book festivals in the former Soviet Union, Europe, Latin America and other Jewish communities.

Every year, JAFI, supported by Federations, provides formal and informal training for 11,500 Jewish educators from 75 countries.

Supported by Jewish Federations, JDC initiated the Coalition for the Advancement of Education for Ethiopian Immigrants to develop effective model programs in the towns and cities that are home to 60% of Israel’s 75,000 Ethiopian Israelis, reaching more than 24,000 Ethiopian schoolchildren and their families.