The Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix applauds Leisah Woldoff for drawing attention to the high costs for a family to fully engage in a Jewish community (“The cost of a committed Jewish life,” Jewish News, April 11). We also understand Stu Turgel’s frustration communicated in his Op-Ed piece (“Community should increase help for Jewish day schools,” Jewish News, April 18) and his desire for more funds to be available to offset the cost of Jewish education. Unfortunately, significant facts were missing from these pieces that should be brought to the attention of the community. The Association is incredibly committed to the importance of Jewish education and to making this and all aspects of Jewish life affordable and accessible to everyone.
In addition to the $100,000 in funds the Association distributes among seven different Jewish day schools, the Association gives an additional $195,000 to other Jewish educational agencies and programs for a total annual allocation to Jewish education of close to $300,000. We also recognize the significant funds available through the Jewish Tuition Organization (JTO) as an additional source for day schools, which allows the Association to direct funds to other critical Jewish needs. The Association is looking forward to working with the JTO to help them achieve major growth and hopefully provide over a million more dollars to our Jewish day schools. We implore everyone to take the maximum dollar-for-dollar Arizona private school tax credit through the JTO that will not cost them a penny as a way to fund day school education.
The Association’s commitment to Jewish education is clearly evident in the tremendous work and investment we’ve made to bring Pardes Jewish Day School onto the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus. The Association has raised close to one-third of the capital campaign for the improvements, took on a $1.4 million obligation and is providing other transition subsidies and partnership with Pardes to help ensure their growth and long-term viability as a community Jewish day school. The Association’s contribution to Jewish education totaled well over $2 million this year.
Much of the other money we provide to local Jewish organizations helps provide services for those in need, for Jewish engagement and for financial assistance. The majority of the money provided to the Valley of the Sun Jewish Community Center is used for preschool, camp and membership scholarships that provide a Jewish environment and programming in which these families would otherwise not be able to participate. Funds we’ve provided to the Jewish Free Loan help the organization distribute additional hardship loans. These are just a few of the examples of how your support of the Association enables us to help others.
We are fully committed to Jewish education, affordability of Jewish life, caring for Jews in need and building a vibrant Jewish community. The Association is “Here for Good.” We are working very hard to meet these objectives and, with your generous support for the 2014 Campaign for Jewish Needs, we will have even more resources to accomplish our goals. All of us working together, supporting each other and lifting each other up is what makes us a great community.
Joel Kramer is the board chair of the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix and Stuart Wachs is the president and CEO.