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August 29, 2015 | 14th Elul 5775

Address to PARDeS Conference, Dallas, TX

January 27, 2002
by Rabbi Eric H. Yoffie, President
Union of American Hebrew Congregations

I am delighted that I can be with you for this important gathering, and I am grateful to you for the invitation. You have extended invitations before during the five years that I have been president, but your annual conferences usually fall at a time when I am in Israel for Jewish Agency meetings. Your timing this year was such that I was available to attend, and when the invitation came I accepted immediately. It is an honor to participate in your deliberations, and it is a pleasure for me to be here both to celebrate your accomplishments and to consider with you the challenges of the future.

I would like to express special thanks to your leaders, and especially to Bonnie Morris and Sue Shapiro Klau, who are excellent spokespersons for your cause and who represent you so well in the national agencies of our community.

As president of the UAHC, I study the history of our Movement with some care. And even though you are, by now, a well-established and well-respected part of the Reform Jewish organizational landscape, I must tell you-at this, my first address to you-how extraordinary and wonderful and important it is that you are here. Reform Judaism has undergone many transformations in the last quarter century, but none has been more dramatic and significant than the creation of a day school movement in its midst. In the 1970s, few observers would have anticipated the changes that would soon take hold in Reform ranks in the areas of outreach, worship, ritual observance, and adult study. Yet, in many ways, the emergence of a day school movement and a Reform day school association must be seen as the most unexpected and the most dramatic change of all.

You are, in a very literal sense, pioneers, and you have done something that, until quite recently, many thought could never be done. The definitive history of Reform Judaism, written by Dr. Michael Meyer, was published before PARDeS was established, but I have no doubt that when the next such history is produced, the Reform day school movement will be presented as a true revolution in Reform Jewish life, brought into being by courageous individuals who withstood hostility, who challenged conventional wisdom, and who changed the very character of Reform Judaism in North America.

In preparation for these remarks, I reread an article by Rabbi Jay Kaufman that appeared in the CCAR Journal in October of 1964. Rabbi Kaufman, Vice President of the UAHC, was then the most important champion of Reform day schools; too often forgotten now, he was a man of character, courage, and vision to whom we all owe a tremendous debt of gratitude. His article is fascinating in many ways, but what is most interesting to me is not what he says but what he is responding to; what emerges from the article is the nearly hysterical character of the anti-day school arguments that were widespread in the mid 1960s. Among these arguments were the following: Reform day schools would pose a threat to the public schools, would ghettoize Jewish children, would be seen as a substitute for improving supplementary school education, are fundamentally incompatible with the values of Reform Judaism, and-this is my favorite-are part of a conspiracy advanced by the champions of Zionism.

Rabbi Kaufman calmly and convincingly responded to each of these arguments, making the case for day schools that you and I have made many times. Although the debate then raging was heated and fierce and not a single Reform day school was then in existence, he expressed confidence that eventually the day school advocates would triumph. He did not believe that a substantial percentage of our children would be educated in such schools, but he did think that the time would come when many of the leaders of Reform Judaism would be day school graduates, bringing to their tasks and to our Movement a deep knowledge of Torah as well as a passionate connection to the progressive traditions and ethical teachings of our people.

No one who reads this article can doubt the extent of your accomplishments. Bringing about change in worship and ritual is difficult because our members have deep, visceral attachments to certain patterns of ritual practice. But transforming attitudes on day schools has been even more challenging because it has meant overcoming a well-developed, relatively coherent, and deeply rooted political ideology that rests in some measure on our lingering insecurities as American Jews. And even though most of those insecurities have faded, and even though Kaufman demonstrated then as we have demonstrated now that day school children are not ghettoized and indeed in every sense are fully American, you and I know that remnants of that ideology still exist and still must be combated every day in our communities.

Therefore, if Rabbi Kaufman were here today, I have no doubt that he would be filled with pride and satisfaction to see that what you have done: 19 schools, nearly 6,000 students, and a thriving association affiliated with the UAHC that provides those schools with direction and support; and he would be profoundly grateful-as am I-to everyone in this room for having the courage to overcome the obstacles that we have faced for so long, to argue the case for intensive day school education, and to do the hard work-day in and day out-of establishing schools and keeping them running.

An aside: If Rabbi Kaufman were to be surprised, it would not be by the success that he anticipated, or by the number of schools established, but by where they are to be found. I suspect that he would find it strange and not a little ironic that, despite the hard work and best efforts of many devoted people, the Reform movement in 2002 has not succeeded in establishing schools in the great population centers of Chicago, Philadelphia, New Jersey or Long Island, but has established schools in the smaller Jewish communities of Atlanta, Dallas, and St. Louis. I served as the Union's regional director in St. Louis in from 1980 to 1983, and if anyone had told me then that there would be a Reform day school in St. Louis before the end of the century I would have questioned that person's sanity. Such are the little surprises that make working in the Jewish community so interesting.

But this aside, Rabbi Kaufman was indeed remarkably prescient in predicting the eventual acceptance of day schools-prescient, that is, in all ways but one. Responding to critics who said that Jewish day schools would inevitably lead to Jewish requests for government funding for these schools, he expressed certainty that this would not happen. And in this, of course, he was wrong. Orthodox leaders, some Conservative leaders, and even some educators and volunteer leaders in Reform ranks have expressed support for government-financed vouchers. As most of you know, I strongly oppose vouchers, and gave my reasons for this opposition at the Boston Biennial. In publicly attacking my position, educators from other streams of Judaism have said in recent weeks that if I oppose vouchers, I am obligated to provide answers as to how Jewish parents will pay for day school education-suggesting, by implication, that failure to do so means that vouchers must be endorsed. But this is circular reasoning, and I will not play this game.

I will not repeat what I said in Boston, but I will say this: I believe that vouchers are a serious breach of the principle of church-state separation, and therefore a threat to the Jewish community, to other minorities, and to the vitality of American religious life. I also believe that vouchers will undermine our system of public education, which is an essential pillar of America's well-being. Whether or not there are ready answers to the funding dilemmas that we face in our schools, vouchers must be opposed, and the overwhelming majority of Reform Jews agree.

What then do I suggest? I suggest that on funding issues, it is best that we tell the simple truth. Jewish parents will have to struggle and sacrifice to send their children to day schools, just as all parents-with the exception of the very wealthy-struggle to send their children to private and sectarian schools. It would be wonderful if we could provide money to pay for every child who wants to go to a Jewish day school, but the hard truth is that there is nowhere near enough money in the Jewish community to do that. Gary Rosenblatt of the New York Jewish Week has pointed out that providing day school education to all interested children would require an endowment larger than the combined endowments of all Jewish federations in North America.

This does not mean we should despair, but it does mean that we must be realistic. There is no panacea for the funding crisis that our day schools face. While we all must help, day school funding is overwhelmingly a local matter, and in some cities we simply may not find the generous donors and community dollars that are required. There are cases now and there will be cases in the future where, tragically, we will be unable to assist families who want to send their children to day school but lack the resources to do so. At the same time, there are other communities where, with proper effort, it should be possible to raise the money necessary to build and expand our schools and to extend scholarships to deserving families.

Our goal, it seems to me, should be slow and steady growth of our day school network, while recognizing that, no matter what we do, ours will always be an elite system. If PARDeS now serves 19 schools and approximately 6,000 children, my hope would be-as I said in Boston-that in the next decade we would grow to 38 schools and 12,000 children. We should look upon growth of this magnitude as a significant success, even though we know that the total day school population would still be less than 10% of school age children in the Reform Movement. Nonetheless, such relatively modest numbers need not suggest that the influence of our schools would be modest. Quite the opposite is true. For most of the last half century, fewer than 10% of our children attended Reform summer camps and yet exerted a tremendous influence on the direction of Reform Judaism. We have every reason to believe that our day school graduates would have even greater influence on the future of this movement.

And what would be the source of this influence? We learned long ago that higher educational standards in one part of the Reform Movement have a salutary effect on ever widening circles. And we learned as well that any institution that produces Reform leaders, even in modest numbers, will have disproportionate influence on every aspect of our Movement's work.

So yes, numbers are important, and we will speak more about that in a few moments. But the real task of PARDeS, I suggest, has less to do with adding numbers and more to do with making every Reform Jewish day school a model of educational excellence and a source of Jewish ideas, inspiration, and creativity. It has to do with producing graduates who are mitzvah-doing and tzedakah-doing Jews, and who make space for God in their lives. It has to do with educating children who hear God's voice and see Torah as a tree of life. In short, it has to do with nurturing leaders. If you do not add a single school or a single student but you succeed in raising up students who are spiritually alive and whose souls are penetrated by Torah, your influence on this movement will be enormous. And, as I have said many times before, the only real threat that Reform Judaism faces is a shortage of leaders, because a movement dies from the top.

* * *

In the time left to me I would like to do two things: First, offer some personal reflections on day school education, speaking not only as a rabbi but as a parent who for many years closely followed his children's day school studies; and second, offer some institutional reflections, suggesting how PARDeS and the UAHC might work together to advance the cause of day school education.

My wife and I live in New Jersey, and since there is no Reform day school in our area, we chose to send our children to a nearby Solomon Schechter School. It is a large, impressive, and professionally-run institution with three campuses; we have nothing but praise for its fine administration. My daughter attended the school from kindergarten through grade 12, and my son from kindergarten through grade 9. This meant that we paid 23 years of day school tuition-a very considerable burden. But we never regretted our decision for a moment. Our children emerged from their day school experience with an infinitely profounder knowledge of Judaism than they ever could have attained in a supplementary school; they emerged as well with a level of Jewish self-assurance and a commitment to Israel and Jewish peoplehood that would have been very difficult to achieve in any other educational setting.

One aspect of their education that I followed particularly closely was their study of Hebrew language. For many years I studied with my children on Shabbat-when my daughter is home from college, we still study together-and I paid special attention to their progress in Hebrew. While the Schechter School they attended had its deficiencies, it always maintained high standards in Hebrew, and for this my wife and I were especially grateful.

I know that every day school represented in this room must struggle with the question of how many hours are to be devoted to Hebrew, and what level of competence students can reasonably be expected to attain. In these discussions, I want to place myself firmly in the camp of those who believe that a high level of Hebrew achievement is an essential element of Reform Jewish day school studies. I have often emphasized that Hebrew is not a mere tool; it is part of the very essence of Judaism, inseparable form the values it expresses and the associations it conveys. For virtually all of our history, Jewish education has begun with Hebrew education. In our supplementary schools, we are obligated to make painful compromises when it comes to Hebrew because we have no choice. But surely in our day schools we must expect from our children a far greater grounding in Judaism's classical texts than can come from part-time education; at the very least, we must expect that they acquire a strong foundation in Hebrew grammar and that they learn to read the narrative portions of the Tanach, Rashi, and simple midrashic literature. I would note in passing that I do not favor emphasis on conversational skills because they are exceedingly difficult to teach, even in a day school setting; children who acquire the basics in Hebrew and then travel to Israel for study and camp programs will learn conversation quickly enough. But my point is that serious Jewish education has always meant a mastery of Hebrew, and surely we cannot be satisfied to have day school children studying Jewish texts primarily in translation.

Another issue that concerned me greatly throughout my children's studies was the very fundamental question of what constituted a reasonable workload for day school children. It was a question that my children's school never answered. Day schools must teach both Jewish and general studies and of course hope to excel in both areas. Obviously, this means that an average day school student will have more work than an average public school student. At the same time, our day school students face the same demands on their time that all American children experience, and in fact we do not want to deny them exposure to the after-school and weekend activities that are so important in American life. But how then are they to do it all?

At my children's school, two answers emerged, and neither was satisfactory. Some children, consciously or unconsciously, with or without parental approval, simply decided that Jewish studies were of secondary importance. Teachers tended to adjust to these lower expectations, with the result being that instruction was offered on a disappointingly low level. Other students, however, were committed to their Jewish studies, and in these more advanced classes the teachers took pride in making demands that often exceeded the requirements in general classes. This meant that certain children carried at any one time ten or eleven very demanding subjects, far too much for even the brightest students. The result? Even though the school emphasized Shabbat, so much homework was assigned that it was impossible to celebrate Shabbat because much of the day had to be devoted to lesson preparation. And many bright students drew the conclusion that the price for attending day school was giving up sports and extra-curricular activities because there was no time for such things.

Obviously, these problems were most severe in high school, but given the pressures to which our children are subjected, they began to appear as early as 5th or 6th grade. Some suggest that the answer is to create a Jewish and general studies curriculum that is fully integrated, and where the distinction between Jewish and general studies ceases to exist. Perhaps, but I know of no day school that has succeeded in doing this. Of course, there are no easy answers to this dilemma. Indeed, I turn to you for your guidance and insights, and ask only that you put this topic on your agenda and help find a solution. This is important because there is so much that our day schools need to do. We undertake to roll back assimilation, to produce children committed to Torah, to make faithful Jews, to teach secular studies at the highest level, and to instill in our charges the ideals of American democracy. But we need to keep in mind the need for some reasonable balance in the program that we offer, lest we overwhelm our children and, in our zeal to do so much, lose sight of their welfare.

A third issue that arose in my children's school was the absence of clarity and commitment in the area of character education-how were the children to be taught menschlichkeit and derekh eretz? The Schechter network is impressive in many ways, and it has a curriculum that, understandably enough, is in most areas far more advanced that is ours. But there never seemed to be a coherent plan for teaching children ethics. Much of this work was left to teachers, and some did it quite well, but as we know, not everyone who can teach math or Hebrew language can necessarily teach Torah values. Issues surrounding bar and bat mitzvah celebrations were clumsily handled. Discipline was often erratic. The children of wealthy donors were sometimes treated just a little differently from the other children-not an unusual phenomenon in any institution, I am afraid, but one which tends to undermine the foundation of all ethical instruction. The school did have a strong social justice program, but we know that public activism and private morality can sometimes be at odds. And distressingly, Jewish text courses often focused on those passages that had slight or no relevance to contemporary ethical issues.

It is unthinkable to me that Reform day schools would not offer a strong program in ethical instruction to our children. Ethical concern has been at the heart of Reform Judaism since its earliest days. It is true, of course, that social justice is a central pillar of Reform practice, but we know as Reform Jews that we cannot sustain social justice work without paying attention to our inner life as well, and without learning to cultivate gentleness, decency, and honor. Reform Jewish living always entails not only tikkun olam, repair of the world, but also tikkun ha-middot, repair of the spirit. We learn Hebrew in order to study Torah, and we study Torah in order to create persons of integrity-people who bear witness to the Eternal One when they rise up and when they lie down, in their homes and on the way.

In my children's school, ethical instruction seemed to be afterthought; in our schools I believe that developing a curriculum to transform souls must be our central goal, and the ultimate measure of our success will be whether or not we promote menschlichkeit and mark our children with the stamp of Jewish decency.

One final thought in this regard. My two children, not surprisingly, had very different experiences in day school. This was due to a variety of factors, not the least of which is their very different personalities. Still, I think that the single most important factor may be that one of my children found a mentor and one did not, and the child who did experienced Judaism in a much more intensive way.

This raises some interesting questions in my mind. We all need religious mentors. We all need rebbes in the modern sense of the term-role models who not only possess cognitive knowledge about Jewish history but are exemplars of Jewish living. We all need spiritual guides who incorporate study, prayer, and sacred ritual into the deepest levels of their being. And children in particular need supportive adults who are comfortable in talking about God and Torah, and who model fair, decent, and respectful behavior in all that they do.

The problem, of course, is that there is no formula for accomplishing any of this. Superb teachers may or may not be good mentors, and a mentor who is suitable for one child might be unsuitable for another. Still, I do believe that there are things that we can do. I have been much impressed by the effort of the Hebrew Union College in recent years to assure that its students are exposed not only to accomplished scholars but also to religious guides who can assist them in building a religious life. On a different level, and in a very different way, it seems to me that our day schools need to do the same thing. In cases where teachers may not be comfortable or appropriate for this role, we need to find adults, and in some cases teenagers, who will spend time with our children and model the kind of Torah commitments that represent Reform Judaism at its best.

It occurs to me that I have been a bit harsh on my children's school, and perhaps given an incorrect impression. As I said before, it is a wonderful place, and my wife and I never regretted for a moment our decision to enroll our son and daughter there. The benefits to them were incalculable. I have focused on those areas where problems existed precisely because I hope that we will learn from the mistakes of those who have preceded us, just as we have learned from their successes, their commitment, and their ongoing devotion to full-time Jewish education.

* * *

Permit me to conclude now with a few thoughts on how PARDeS and the UAHC might cooperate in the work that we do.

The educational mandate of the Union is a broad one, of course. Educational concerns, both formal and informal, have been my major priority since becoming president of the UAHC, and we now find ourselves more committed than ever before to a range of educational efforts.

We have created a Department of Adult Jewish Growth to develop study materials for adults and to sponsor adult study retreats around the country. We run twelve UAHC summer camps, we are now creating a new camp in the Northwest, and we hope to add three additional camps in the next decade. We are trying very hard to improve the quality of our synagogue youth groups, and we are now hiring informal educators to work in most of our regional offices. We operate a high school program in Israel in both the fall and spring semesters, and we are about to initiate a program that will bring Israeli high school students to study in America for four months. We intend to run five-week Israel programs this summer, although the number of participants will be small. And, as most of you know, at the Boston Biennial we adopted a long-term plan to reinvigorate and renew our supplementary school system by creating a new curriculum, training teachers, and involving lay leaders in a more significant way in religious school affairs. This is a major undertaking and is long overdue; Rabbi Jan Katzew, our wonderful, dedicated, and brilliant director of Education is the driving force behind it. He is assisted, of course, by the regional educators who now serve in every regional office.

Yet however much we have to do in other areas, I recognize that we also must do what we can to advance your efforts, and I am proud of the work that we have already done together. As many of you in this room know, the UAHC has secured a $210,000 grant from the Jim Joseph Foundation to develop a Hebrew curriculum for day schools. We are now working with nine schools, and in additional to curriculum development, the grant also provides onsite teacher training. We are hoping to get additional funds from the foundation to continue this work and are now searching for a matching grant that will make this possible.

We have combined this grant with a $45,000 grant that we have received from the Jewish Agency so that we may provide an Israel component to our training for Hebrew teachers. This will enable us to offer Hebrew teachers a low-cost Israel trip this summer that will include seminars with curricular specialists and Hebrew teaching specialists in Israeli schools.

In addition, we have asked Lesley Litman, our regional educator in the Northeast who has expertise in day school education, to work with you to provide regular, ongoing support and advocacy for day schools and intensive Jewish learning. Leslie has visited almost all of your schools, and participates in monthly conference calls with PARDeS leaders. Leslie is deeply committed to your work, as is Jan Katzew, who is also an active participant in PARDeS activities and conferences.

As we look to the future, it seems to me that we need to talk seriously about how we can increase the number of schools in our system. I believe that our network of regional offices can play a role in the process. Our regional directors know the Reform landscape very well. I suggest that we sit with them and with you to discuss those areas where the prospects of creating day schools are high, and then that we take the initiative to call together rabbis and Reform leaders to explore the possibility of bringing new schools into existence. We would want to send a clear message that the Union supports Reform day schools, and that we encourage interested parents, rabbis, and others to gather support in their communities. We would, of course, proceed only with your cooperation, and if interest does exist, we would require your expertise to get the process underway.

The Union is now working with PEJE-the Partnership for Excellence in Jewish Education-in preparing a study of four congregational schools in Florida in order to learn about the challenges of starting and growing day schools in a synagogue setting. On the one hand, such a study would obviously be helpful to us. There will be congregations in the future that will consider creating day schools, and we would like to give them direction and advice. On the other hand, I have suggested to our Department of Education that it would be a mistake to focus only on congregational schools. I believe that Reform day schools created in coming years will in most cases be community schools, and the great challenge that we face is finding a way to create a community consensus among Reform leaders, rabbis, and synagogues. Far too often, as we know, tension and infighting become obstacles to progress; far too often, the idea for a day school that comes from one lay leader, rabbi, or congregation is seen as threatening by other lay leaders, rabbis, and congregations who fear the school will be primarily associated with a congregation other than their own. There is much to be learned from congregations that have started their own schools, but there is even more to be learned from Reform communities that have drawn together to support a day school to which every Reform synagogue is committed.

On another matter of importance: I would also hope to arrange for meetings and dialogue between the leaders of PARDeS and those who administer our camping system. It is essential that we create a close connection that, I believe, does not yet exist.

We know the tremendous impact that your schools have on the students who attend. But we know as well that no single Jewish experience, no matter how powerful, is sufficient to assure the commitment of our children to Judaism and Torah when they are older. They need formal education and informal education; they need camps and youth groups and Israel trips. But are day school children taking advantage of our camping programs? Are your schools vigorously recruiting for Reform camps? Similarly, we need to ask if we have taken the necessary steps to meet whatever special needs day school children, who are obviously better educated Jewishly than other children, might have in our camps. We need to get your input and expertise as we develop the educational programs for our camps. And we need to invite your teachers and staff members to serve as staff members at our camps. Your physical presence during the summer will surely strengthen our educational efforts, and at the same time will expose our campers to the wonderful educators and role models who work in your schools. We need to sit together and talk about how we can make this happen.

An additional issue that concerns us both is whether or not our Reform day schools are educating children to be Reform Jews. When my children were at Schechter, many of the teachers were Orthodox, and there was concern among the administrators about whether or not the children were being educated as Conservative Jews. Similarly, my understanding is that many of our teachers are Conservative or Orthodox or secular, or in any case do not identify with Progressive Judaism. Therefore, we need to ask the question if our children are going to emerge from our school system loyal to progressive religious principles.

I want to make clear that my focus is not narrowly institutional. The issue is not whether we teach them about Reform institutions, or about the need for affiliation with Reform synagogues. These are important matters, of course, but they are almost never of any interest to children. The problem that I pose is a religious and theological one: are we raising up Jews who in practice and belief identify with a progressive view of Torah? And yes, despite all the talk about post-denominational Judaism, there are significant and important differences between Reform and Conservative Jews and between Reform and Orthodox Jews; and when we are teaching our children about Shabbat and holidays, about inclusion and social justice, about mitzvot and the position of women, are we teaching them the values that form of the foundation of our Reform religious outlook?

Because teachers are in such short supply, I understand that there are no easy solutions to these problems. What do we do when the best-qualified candidate for a teaching position is Jewishly committed but ignorant of Reform Judaism? My own view is that the UAHC has a responsibility here to work with you in helping to educate our teachers about Reform Judaism. For example, we have already developed an on-line course on Reform Judaism that might be an excellent tool for preparing new teachers unacquainted with Reform to work in our day schools. Also, it is obvious that any long-term solution will involve a role for the Hebrew Union College in training teachers. I was pleased to see that HUC, as an initial step, has recently joined with Brandeis University in creating a program for the training and mentoring of day school teachers in the Boston and Los Angeles areas. I have not yet had an opportunity to discuss this matter with Rabbi David Ellenson. I know that the College-Institute is facing many challenges at the moment, and Rabbi Ellenson has just begun his new responsibilities. But he is, as you know, a rabbi and scholar of enormous integrity and distinction, and he is totally devoted to serious education at all levels of our Movement. In addition, he is fortunate to be blessed with a superb educational faculty; we heard last night from the wonderful Dr. Michael Zeldin, who is the intellectual father of the Reform day school movement, but the professors of education at all our campuses share his commitment to day schools. I would be happy to sit with you and with Dr. Ellenson to talk about what he sees as possible paths for the College-Institute to take in this area.

Another matter of mutual concern is how we teach our children about Israel. This is a difficult and complicated subject at this moment in our history. Israel is central to our being, but there is nothing obvious or self-evident about how we convey this centrality to our children. In this regard, I would hope that we could learn something from you that we might then apply to educational programs in religious schools and camps. Also, I understand that some of our day schools that are thinking about bringing a sheliach from Israel might consider choosing someone from the Israeli Reform Movement. This would be an important step and significant step; I would hope that you would proceed with it, and we would be happy to help.

Finally, the UAHC clearly can play a role in publicizing the work of our day schools throughout our Movement. However, if we are to be effective in this effort, we need to understand that we are not talking about issuing routine press releases. If we are to make an impact, we must be creative in our thinking, and highlight those achievements of our schools that have general interest and that demonstrate that our day schools are an integral part of the larger Reform family. The Boston Biennial provided an excellent example of what can be done in this regard: the Rashi school worked with the Biennial to offer some exciting and innovative projects that involved a large number of Biennial participants in the work of tikkun olam while simultaneously bringing Rashi to the attention of 6,000 Reform delegates. I would hope that at future national biennials, and at regional biennials as well, we can highlight your accomplishments, and that we will work together in searching for other ways to bring your message to the broader Reform community.

I have spoken more than enough. It is clear that we have much to do, and that we must do it in a cooperative spirit, jointly affirming the passion for learning that is the heritage of every Jew. Let me thank you once again for your courageous and pioneering efforts to break with the parochialism of the past and to create the option in Reform ranks for full-time, mind-saturating Jewish education. Let me thank you once again for fighting the plague of educational minimalism in Reform Jewish life. Let me thank you for believing in the merits of the day school and the inevitability of the day school, and for your faith that from this institution will come forth the young leaders who will help Reform Judaism remain a vital, vibrant movement within Judaism.

This I know. You should never doubt the importance of what you do. Your influence in Reform ranks will only grow, and your reverence for Torah, tradition, and serious education will strengthen our collective will for redemption and further our common, sacred cause.

Thank you.


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