May 21, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
May 21, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Postscript on Tuition Assistance

I’d like to bring to the attention of the readers an interesting community directive from the city of Metz that relates to the recent discussion about tuition assistance. (“Is Tuition Assistance Tzedakah?’ July 30, 2020) We can learn from it the sensitivity a community must have for those that request tuition assistance.

In the year 1690, the city leaders, under the guidance of the rabbi, issued nine takanot concerning the Jewish education in the city. Among them is one that reads:

“The community shall pay from its coffer the tuition for all children whose fathers submit a request for this. The community shall fulfill all of the requests without scrutinizing and inquiring about the material circumstances of the requesters.” (Mekorot leToldot haChinuch b’Yisroel, v. 1 p. 152, edited by Simcha Assaf)

The editor, Simcha Assaf, notes that this directive is most interesting considering that when it came to regular charity the community directives state that it was necessary to scrutinize and inquire of all applicants, including checking if the person had possessions that could be sold off. Only when it came to tuition did they have this special rule exempting applicants from the normal vetting process.

Although we do not know the reasoning behind this directive it is clear that the community was sensitive to the negative repercussions that scrutinizing applicants might have. Was it that the community was concerned that these poor families would not provide a Jewish education to their children if they were going to be subject to scrutiny when they asked for tuition assistance? Did they believe that it was unfair to scrutinize applicants asking for assistance with tuition? From my research it seems Metz was not an affluent community. Are these concerns still relevant in our own community? What can we learn from this?

Saadia Kluger
Bergen County
Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles