Effective allocations

Ben Bridge

Foreign Minister of Israel Avigdor Liberman has proposed that the State of Israel budget $365 million annually for Diaspora education, the objective of which is “to serve as an antidote to rising assimilation, intermarriage, and disengagement from the Jewish community.”
A threshold question is how many additional students can be educated if all of the $365 million is allocated to the United States, and the preferred vehicle is Jewish day schools, at a cost of $20,000 per student annually, or $180,000 per student for nine years (K-8). The answer is shockingly few: 2,027. If we assume that in each grade level there is a potential pool of 60,000 students (1 percent of total estimated American Jewish population of 6 million), it is apparent that use of the money to educate this way is fruitless.
While a 10-day or two-week-duration Israel experience is not the equivalent of a K-8 Jewish day school education, there is evidence that in terms of Avigdor Liberman’s objectives, there is a near equivalency.
Assuming a per-student cost of $5,000 for a 10-day Israel experience (Birthright Israel is less), $365 million would fund 73,000 Jewish teens on a life-changing Israel experience, as compared to a mere 2,027 children for a Jewish day school experience. Potentially every Jewish 16 year old and 25,000 additional teens in the Diaspora could be served each year, with “the antidote to rising assimilation, intermarriage, and disengagement from the Jewish community.” Jewish continuity will be assured.
Mr. Liberman must be applauded for his wonderful idea of allocating $365 million from Israel’s budget to educate Jews of the Diaspora. Now his challenge is to use the money most effectively.
Robert I. Lappin
President, Lappin Foundation
Salem, MA

JFS

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