The Canadian Jeiwsh News

Sunday, October 4, 2015

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Cost of Jewish education

Tags: Letters

Given all of the attention being paid to Jewish day school tuition, and rightly so, it might be of interest to some people what other communities outside of the Jewish community have to say about tuition. I recently attended an Ontario Federation of Independent Schools (OFIS) seminar and spoke with several principals and board members from Christian schools. The discussions were enlightening. 

The fact that Rehoboth Christian School had tuition that was about one-third of our typical elementary Jewish school and that their university placement rate is equivalent to our schools and that they also bemoan the lack of government funding, as we do, was not surprising. Rather, what astounded me was that these individuals took great pride in their successful efforts to keep tuition low, resulting in the growth of one school to approximately 600 children, in a small community!

This sensitivity and understanding of the benefits of keeping tuition low seems to have been lost or at least moved down the totem pole pretty far below most other considerations in our community. In fact, the argument that the quality of our education is paramount seems somewhat perverse. As our schools engage in a race to the top of the quality ladder, the barrier to entry rises, enrolments decline and fewer parents can keep up. Surely we can do better.

A communal response is long overdue to this most pressing problem. New initiatives are taking place across the border in Jewish schools, while we in Ontario boast if our tuition only rises a few percentage points above inflation. Everyone is in favour of top-quality Jewish education, but the question we need to be asking is:  at what cost? We need some fresh new ideas – now!

Ira Walfish


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Palliative care


In reference to the question about whether palliative care takes into account halachic restrictions that would force interventions during end-of-life treatment, we need to ask (“Palliative care,” letter, March 14):

• What is in the the patient’s best interest?

• Can the use of these interventions return the patient to his previous life that was not full of suffering?

• Is artificial nutrition associated with unnecessary suffering that provides little clinical benefit?

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein stated, “For a patient with pain and suffering who cannot be cured and cannot live much longer, it is not obligatory to administer medical therapy to prolong life.”

In Baycrest’s palliative care unit, antibiotics and morphine are administered to enable the patient to breathe more easily. Decisions are made using a multi-disciplinary approach that includes family, geriatric doctors, psychiatrists, the ethical department and clergy to sustain life as long as possible with as little pain as possible.

Evelyn Burns-Weinrib

Palliative Care Volunteer, Baycrest



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Security Infrastructure Program


I am pleased about the government decision to continue Canada’s Security Infrastructure Program (SIP) (“Toews seeks applications for security funding,” Feb. 21, cjnews.com). In 2007, the government of Canada created SIP, a program to reduce the risk of hate crimes to those susceptible such as schools, institutions, and places of worship. Those who qualify are entitled to government funding up to $100,000 to buy security devices provided they match the dollar value.

According to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, everyone in Canada is entitled to religious freedom. When that freedom is challenged or threatened through acts of terrorism, the government should be concerned not just constitutionally but pragmatically. Jews around the world have been targets of terror and hate motivated crime for generations. In Canada, more than 70 per cent of religious hate-motivated crime has been toward Jews.

In Canada in 2010, there were 204 hate crimes against Jews, and 21 per cent of those were violent. As a 16-year-old Jew living in Toronto who attends a Jewish day school and synagogue, this makes me concerned for my safety. SIP will give other people and myself the security and peace of mind that everyone deserves and allow them to practise their religion in a more safe and secure way.

SIP, which matches the supporters contributions dollar for dollar, eliminates possible abuse of the program, because only those at risk would be willing to put up any money for their protection. It is a reassuring and comforting feeling for me to know that I have a government that cares about me and my safety. Because of the SIP program, many across Canada can have peace of mind and some sleep at night.

Yoav Shumacher


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First Jew in New France


Bill Gladstone’s review of Canadian writers who have dealt with the life of Esther Brandeau, the first known Jew to set foot in New France, omits Pierre Lasry’s notable contribution, Une Juive En Nouvelle-France, translated into English as Esther, A Jewish Odyssey (“The Book of Esther,” Feb. 21). Lasry’s award-winning novel is a historically rich interpretation of Brandeau’s remarkable life as a story about tshuvah.  

Howard Damie


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