Foundations Urged to Make ‘more Dramatic’ Gifts for Jewish Education

The American Association for Jewish Education appealed today to foundations and individual Jewish philanthropists for “much more dramatic dimension” in their gifts for Jewish education, if they really wish to see a radical improvement in Jewish education in this country.

The appeal was made by Harry Meresman, national treasurer of the AAJE, in his year-end report. Noting in particular the large gifts which have recently been made available for educational purposes specifically, he said: “The establishment of the Melton Research Center at the Jewish Theological Seminary was made possible by a gift of more than $700,000 from Mr. Samuel Melton of Columbus, Ohio; at Yeshiva University, the establishment of the Vera Michael Hebrew Teachers Training College was made possible by a gift of $1,000,000 by Mr. Jakob Michael; the National Curriculum Research Institute of the AAJE was made possible by a gift from the Rosenthal family in Cleveland in the amount of $175,000.

“While such generous contributions to educational institutions are not unprecedented in the Jewish community.” Mr. Meresman pointed out, “examination will show that in most instances philanthropic support of such institutions is directed to the erection of buildings, or in support of those activities which are not particularly Jewish.” He stressed that “there are presently on the drawing boards of Jewish educational institutions essential projects which the community can postpone only at the peril of its own creative existence.”

Among these projects, he said, are curricular research, standard testing programs, text publication programs, the recruitment and the training of a teacher force, the training of administrative and supervisory personnel in the schools, the development of teaching materials for Jewish secondary schools and on the collegiate level, the improvement and expanded support of the Day School movement in America. “These are among the essential ingredients of a Jewish educational system which require substantial and imaginative financial support,” he stated. “Such support cannot be expected to come from Federations and Jewish community chests which are already hard put to meet their present obligations. Only foundation grants and individual giving in large amounts can meet the need.”

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