Jewish education is unparalleled as a means to inspire our children, grandchildren and all future generations to care about Judaism, develop a strong sense of Jewish identity and live authentically Jewish lives. When we walk the halls of our schools, we see Torah and our rich heritage come alive for the students, and we see the children and grandchildren of graduates continuing to exemplify how a Jewish education helps build the future.
But its significant cost is causing untold stress to our families.
We need to make educational affordability a bigger priority and the way to do that is to heed our Day School Voting Initiative, a powerful call to action. When we vote for politicians who prioritize our concerns, we inch closer to achieving the kind of transformative results that have already powerfully and positively impacted communities in other states.
This year, we have a significant opportunity for our community to be noticed. The elected officials determining funding for our schools are on the ballot, and with virtually no contested races in the June primary, voter turnout is expected to be quite low. If we all show up to vote, we have a tremendous opportunity to stand out.
Voting is one of the most powerful things we can do for our community, yet relatively few of us exercise this basic and fundamental right. The excuses are numerous: I’m too busy. I don’t know who to vote for. I’m just one person; my lone voice can’t possibly matter on the macro level.
Nothing should keep you away from the polls for the primary elections on Tuesday, June 6, and the general elections on Tuesday, November 7. If you are a member of the Jewish community, or if you are someone who cares about the future of the Jewish community, then we implore you to stop offering reasons why you can’t or won’t do it, and simply show up and vote. It is an incredibly simple return on investment in the quest for affordability of Jewish education.
With Florida’s recent victory in the state, 100 % of Florida’s families will now receive upwards of $8,000 per student enrolled in a nonpublic school every year. And right next to us in New Jersey, more than half of Jewish families in Pennsylvania are already receiving scholarships of this magnitude.
You may think it can never happen here in New Jersey. But five years ago, no one in Florida or Pennsylvania thought it would be possible there, either. How did they achieve this? The collective action of numerous individuals who cared enough to show up, speak up and vote like never before.
It can happen here, too, but only with the support and full participation of our community. Big results require big action.
New Jersey nonpublic schools have already benefited from more than $141 million in state funding this year for things like security, technology, bussing and nursing services. But tuition assistance from the state would be transformative.
We ask each of you to make sure that you are registered to vote (by May 16), pick a party (in order to vote in the primary) and make your voice heard, either from June 2-4 during early voting at the Rodda Center or on June 6 at your local polling station. It’s easier than ever to register online at https://voter.svrs.nj.gov/register. Have a question? Teach NJ has a voter hotline you can call or text at (201) 613-2491.
In three weeks, make sure you take those few minutes to vote. The minimal effort will clearly be worth the impact it will achieve for many years to come.Sincerely,
Avraham Simcha Adler, Rosenbaum Yeshiva of North Jersey
Rachel Barber Schwartz, Ben Porat Yosef
Amy Buchsbayew, Yavneh Academy
Kate Davis, Yeshivat He’Atid
Binyamin Rieder, Yeshivat Noam
Ranit Shiff, The Moriah School