In a lecture broadcast to thousands of viewers worldwide, Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto delivers dire warning of assimilation * Economic crisis instigated by coronavirus pandemic endangers hundreds of children in Jewish schools across America * Rabbi Pinto’s urgent plea to school principals and administrators: “Have mercy on the children whose parents were impoverished by the crisis!” * Unable to meet steep tuition payments, dozens of parents have transferred their children to public schools * Spiritual calamity!
In the course of his popular lectures which are viewed worldwide by thousands, Chief Rabbi of Morocco and director of Shuva Yisrael Institutions Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto described the unfortunate state of Jewish education in the United States.
“Without a doubt, schools are doing an excellent job, doing their utmost to fulfill their sacred mission. Yet to our grave misfortune…[education] has evolved into a business, which is perilous. Every day, we hear of families that have sunk to financially hard times, and their reaction is to transfer their children into public schools. This is a grave and tragic injustice…that leads to assimilation and scars the child’s soul irreparably.”
Rabbi Pinto related that he was recently visited by a man who had abandoned Orthodox Judaism in his adolescence after his parents had been unable to meet monthly tuition fees. Left with no choice, they sent him to public school where, surrendering to spiritual and social challenges, he left the fold.
“Obviously, such tragedies occur only because the schools themselves struggle to remain financially afloat. It is thus our moral obligation to support [the schools] to ensure that under no circumstance will a Jewish child whose parents cannot afford tuition fees forfeit traditional Jewish education. This is a catastrophe that has potential to wreak spiritual devastation on future generations!” exhorted the rabbi.
The financial situation of many Jews in America and around the world is harsh. Large families specifically are beleaguered with steep mortgage payments and the high cost of living. The above is aggravated by costly private education which, for many, can reach a sum of tens of thousands of dollars annually.
On a daily basis, Rabbi Pinto receives agonizing questions and requests from distressed couples who are in debt and unable to meet their monthly tuition payments. Dozens, and perhaps hundreds, have unfortunately chosen the seemingly easy way out by pulling their children out of their Orthodox institutions and transferring them to local public schools, where the devastating results are not long in coming.
“My point is neither to condemn nor to rebuke,” Rabbi Pinto expresses earnestly, “yet this anguished shout must be sounded and heard! Unfortunately, many in America’s Jewish community are suffering from the global economic crisis. Thousands have plummeted financially, while few have remained unaffected or even on solid financial footing. There are many people who, especially now, are living from hand to mouth, and the stress of paying tuition fees only serves to exacerbate a dangerous situation. There are parents who have surrendered and taken the drastic step of transferring their children to schools where their Judaism and faith will surely suffer. It is impossible to assess the spiritual calamity that can result from this.”
The rabbi continued that while no one is to blame for the status quo, school principals, rabbinical boards and administrators must appreciate that although they are surely right in stating that it is difficult for them to contend with the exorbitant costs of running a school, it is still their foremost responsibility and obligation to raise the next generation of Jews to be Jewish!
He expressed that they must exercise their Jewish attribute of compassion, sympathize with Jewish parents who are currently unable to afford the prohibitive costs of education, and avoid transforming Jewish schools into schools of the privileged. It is untenable, he insisted, that parents who cannot afford school tuition should be compelled to send their children to public school, where not only the education, but also the environment, is free for all.
Rabbi Pinto likewise presaged that conditioning Jewish education to payment of tuition fees has potential to instigate a terrible chillul Hashem if word leaks to the media. “Principals and administrators must be vigilant and exercise caution, knowing when to put pressure and when to let up. They must seek to base their income more on donations and less on tuition… This is a very delicate issue which incites deep grievances, not to mention pressure on the children, which is both spiritually and emotionally unhealthy.”
Rabbi Pinto concluded with a heartfelt blessing and piece of sage counsel. “When one searches for new paths, the Holy One Blessed is He inevitably assists those who engage in sacred endeavors. Even when the channel of bounty is cut short in one area, He opens a larger channel of blessing elsewhere.
Surely the sacred merits of raising beautiful Jewish generations who are faithful to G-d and His Torah shall safeguard all our principals and administrators!”