Making Jewish education affordable

Making Jewish education affordable

One in three households in the Gen17 Jewish community survey said the cost of fees prevented them from sending at least one child to a Jewish school.

Photo: Koba Samurkasov/
Photo: Koba Samurkasov/

HISTORIC offers have seen dozens of students who otherwise would not have received a Jewish day school education move from public schools to Jewish schools.

One in three households in the Gen17 Jewish community survey said the cost of fees prevented them from sending at least one child to a Jewish school.

Last month, Masada College announced an “incredibly attractive and drastically more affordable” offer for new students, which equates to around half the usual amount for years K to 6 and less than half for years 7 to 12.

President Darryl Dorfan told The AJN the objective “is to increase the Jewish population of the school to the existing capacities that we currently have”.

“There are more than 700 Jewish children on Sydney’s north shore who do not attend a Jewish day school. We have identified affordability as the main reason,” he said. “Our aim is to remove the hurdle of affordability for these families … enabling them to afford a wonderful Jewish education combined with an excellent secular academic offer.”

The school is not looking to fill a specific number of places.

“Each specific grade has varying levels of available capacity. Additional enrolments will be according to each existing stream and class structure,” he said.

“We are encouraging parents to enrol quickly as we don’t want them to miss out on spaces where we have availability.”

Dorfan said the school has been “very happy” with the response to the offer, which runs until October 31.

“The campaign has only been running for two weeks and we have been inundated with enquiries, questions and enrolments.” 

He added that most of the school’s current parents “have been very supportive but we have had concern expressed by some members of our current parent body, which we expected”.

“We have, however, been very transparent with our parent body about the process and the motivation behind it,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mount Sinai College’s “Jewish Studies Grant”, which expired this week, offered a 50 per cent bursary for children not currently enrolled in a Jewish school.

President Anthony Berman told The AJN the school had the capacity and had been informed by the Gen17 findings in its decision to offer the grant.

“The intent is to try and capture parents and kids who for whatever reasons can’t afford a Jewish education,” he said.

“It’s a one-off grant – should circumstances change, that’s for a board [to decide] at a future time, but as of now it’s a not-to-be-repeated offer.”

An additional comment from the school stated, “We always welcome anyone who is interested in joining the Mount Sinai family to contact us to discuss options around financial assistance which can be considered on a case by case basis.”

In 2018, Kesser Torah College (KTC) had a limited per annum offer of $1000 for primary fees and $1800 for high school fees to entice students from public schools, resulting in over 30 new enrolments..

“It was a good experience,” KTC president Meir Moss said.

He added, “Current parents [whose children were not eligible] were generally very accepting because it was increasing the size of the school body.”

Moriah College has not presented such an offer, but principal Rabbi Yehoshua Smukler said the school “works closely with all families who seek financial support, to find a way to provide their children with a Moriah education”.

“We have a fee assistance model that is fair, equitable and robust,” he said.

“Through the generosity of the Moriah Foundation, we award a variety of scholarships each year, and we also offer a range of bursaries.”

Similarly, Emanuel School president Adam Blackman said, “Our enrolments are very strong and our fees competitive. Parents are welcome to apply for fee assistance if required.”

While it does not interfere in the practices and policies of individual schools, the Australian Council of Jewish Schools has welcomed the incentives.

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