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The Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future



The Challenge

We are fortunate to have exemplary, high-quality Jewish formal education options in Pittsburgh, as well as so many other informal Jewish learning programs available to all age groups. In today's economy, however, our agencies, synagogues and day schools are faced with rising operational expenses and enrollment challenges, primarily due to costs.

Without some form of Jewish education, every aspect of our young people's connection to Judaism is threatened: they are less likely to raise Jewish children, join a synagogue or consider Israel an important part of their lives. For instance, according to a 2000-01 United Jewish Communities study, 12% of Pittsburgh Jewish families elected not to educate their children Jewishly because of cost, and those children are among some 4,000 local Jewish youth who do not currently attend a synagogue school or day school. The implications of missing the opportunity to learn – at Jewish pre-schools, in classrooms or through teen or adult education programs -- are self-evident and demand an immediate response.

The Solution

It is a fact that education – both formal classroom instruction and informal Jewish learning – is the most effective transmitter of Jewish history, tradition and values. "Jewish education" includes experiential learning at Jewish summer camp, in Jewish youth groups, on teen trips to Israel, via Jewish holiday celebrations for families, etc, in addition to formal education in our synagogues and day schools.  CFJF is committed to making a full spectrum of educational opportunities accessible and available to all who wish to participate, regardless of affiliation or ability to pay.

CFJF is already supporting numerous education opportunities including:

  • Providing synagogues with guidance and support to better meet the needs of the families that engage with them.
  • Enhancing teacher training to ensure that we have better and more inspired educators who have the tools to succeed.
  • Scholarships to make programs and schools more accessible to more people.
  • Supporting preschool curricula.

One example of CFJF funds at work for education is Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools, which recently announced a new program to provide free tuition for students who are new to Jewish day school. The program offers a unique opportunity for Jewish families to have their children experience a high quality private education coupled with a rich understanding of Jewish history, language, culture and traditions. Pittsburgh Jewish Day Schools include Community Day School, Hillel Academy and Yeshiva Schools, located in Squirrel Hill.

The Four Questions

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The Sunday school lesson had just finished and the rabbi asked if the children had any questions. Little David quickly raised his hand.

"Yes, David? What question would you like to ask me?"

"I have four questions to ask you, Rabbi. Is it true that after the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, they then received the Ten Commandments?"

"Yes, David."

"And the children of Israel also defeated the Philistines?"

"Yes, David, that's also true."

"And the children of Israel also fought the Romans and fought the Egyptians and built the Temple?"

"Again you are correct, David."

"So my last question is, Rabbi, what were the grown-ups doing all this time?"