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November 29, 2002 - Image 31

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-29

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Editorials are posted and archived on JN Online:

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A Host Of Challenges

he challenges facing the new headmaster of
Hillel Day School of Metropolitan Detroit
will mirror those facing other Jewish day
schools locally and around the nation.
They are challenges that leaders of the Solomon
Schechter-affiliated day school in Farmington Hills no
doubt will take seriously, as they should. Greater pres-
sure to excel — from parents, teachers and administra-
tors alike — has made internal demands and outside
expectations higher.
Some of the most pressing challenges are: recruiting
students; finding, training and keeping staff, especially
in the sciences and mathematics; limiting tuition hikes;
developing innovative coursework; helping the cultural
arts resonate; and holding parents more
accountable. There's also inequity between
larger and smaller schools in the area of
computer technology and instruction.
In many ways, Detroit Jewry serves as a national
model for Jewish education, from the Seminars for
Adult Jewish Enrichment and the Michigan
Conservative movement's adult learning project Eilu
v'Eilu, to the Florence Melton Adult Mini School and
the push to endow the operation of day schools.
A day school education is rooted in the belief that
the blend of secular and religious learning builds
Jewish identity, promotes Jewish continuity and shapes
Jewish leadership during our children's most impres-
sionable years.
There's much to be said about valuing and support-
ing such an education. But uncontrolled cost is sure to
cripple even the best of day schools. So "ability to pay"
should not be the deciding factor for admission. The
Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit — through
increased scholarship support, increased Annual
Campaign allocations and creation of the Michigan

Education Trust — has played a pivotal role in
fulfilling that communal hope.
As the Hillel board seeks to replace Dr. Mark
Smiley, who will leave in July after 16 years as
headmaster, overcoming a substantial budget
deficit through fund-raising and spending con-
trols, while maintaining tuition help for roughly
one-third of the 720 students, will be a foremost
consideration. Students are the soul of a school,
so we hope the budget situation doesn't force
school leaders to lose faith in the graduated-
tuition scale they adopted two years ago.
The goal was to reach more middle-class fami-
lies and dispel the perception that Hillel is elitist
— in reach of only the wealthy —
even though no child there is deprived
of any service or activity because of
ability to pay. Many families, including
New Americans, first had to clear the tuition
hurdle to become a Hillel family. An impetus for
the new 10-tier tuition scale was the projected
falloff in enrollment from the high point of 770
students in the 1999-2000 school year.
The Federation-managed Shiffman Family
Day School Tuition Assistance Fund was the gift
of Lois and the late Dr. Milton Shiffman. They
believed the thirst for Jewish learning, not family
out on its long-term success. But it's a start. It gives
wealth, should drive school enrollment. Their generosi- school leaders breathing room as they search for a
ty underscored that the Jewish community ultimately
headmaster while wrestling with a host of other chal-
is responsible for helping children learn Jewishly —
lenges — from teacher recruitment and retention to
whether at a day, synagogue or supplemental school.
class-enrichment opportunities — against a backdrop
Hillel's graduated tuition scale, further blunted by
of growing assimilation, acculturation, intermarriage
multiple enrollment discounts, is a signal of creative
and just plain apathy.
planning because it makes tuition more equitable by
Day schools have become a microcosm of
tying it to family income.
American Jewry with all its promise, foibles and
Still, it won't meet everyone's needs. And the jury is
achievements. fl

Sadat's Unrealized Vision

With the notable exception of Jordan's King
Hussein, all Arab rulers have declared themselves
opposed to making peace with Israel in part, at
least, because each fears he might pay with his life
for any gesture of accommodation.
The rejection of Israel remains a signal of the Arab
world's unwillingness to deal with the reality of the
world, its preference for a numbing violence that
condemns its own people to increasingly backward-
ness and ultimately irrelevance on the world stage.
In many ways, Sadat was no hero. He had inherited
the Egyptian presidency from Gamal Abdel Nasser,
who had been crushed by Israel's defeat of his
country in 1967. Under Sadat — though not
necessarily because of him — Egypt lost its
primacy with the Arab League countries, to
be replaced in time by Saudi Arabia where the monar-
chy has used its oil money to finance an increasing mil-
itant Islam. Losing his grip on power and unable to
revive the Egyptian economy, Sadat governed like many
another Arab despot, censoring and jailing political
opponents and allowing government corruption that
ceaselessly worsened the lives of ordinary citizens.
Now Egypt, under current President Mohamed
Hosni Mubarak, observes a cold peace with Israel,
keeping the Sinai demilitarized and allowing Israeli
ships unimpeded passage through both the Red Sea
and the Suez Canal. Israel does keep finding tunnels



"Peace is more precious than a piece of land"
— Anwar Sadat

wenty-five years ago last week, Anwar
Sadat, then the president of Egypt, made a
dramatic, totally unpredicted flight from
Cairo to Jerusalem to speak to the Israeli
Knesset about the need for peace in the Mideast and
how he thought it might be achieved.
It was a stunning gesture, and it led a
year later to the Camp David peace
accords, which, in turn, led to the 1978
pact that returned the Sinai to Egypt in
exchange for its recognition of Israel's right to exist
within secure and defined borders.
It could easily have triggered a much more sweep-
ing process that could have led to a permanent
peace between the Jewish state and all its Arab
neighbors, including the Palestinians.
Sadly, of course, what it triggered instead was the
assassination of Sadat himself in 1981 at the hands of
a radical Muslim group called Egyptian Islamic Jihad.
If it didn't before, that killing, an act of rejection
and hatred — the choice of the gun instead of the
olive branch — has defined the Mideast ever since.



in the Gaza Strip that may be conduits for arms to the
Palestinian terrorists, but so far Egypt has not been
caught disobeying the letter of the pact Sadat signed
with former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.
That does not mean, however, that it observes the
spirit of Sadat's courageous peace-for-land deal. Even
when government officials are trying to persuade
Hamas to call off terrorist bombings, the govern- •
ment-controlled press spits out a vile rant. Hailing
the Jerusalem bus bombing, for example, the govern-
ment paper Al-Akhbar editorialized on Nov. 22 that
that attributes the "martydom operation" to "the state
of madness that over took the ruling Israeli gang led
by Ariel Sharon, who seeks to spill more Palestinian
blood, especially the blood of children, women, the
elderly, and the brave people of resistance."
Worse yet, the government declared that after "careful
review" it had decided to allow the broadcast of a 41-
part television series that treats as almost koranic truth
the century-old fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
For all Sadat's flaws, he saw clearly that the history of
the Mideast would continue to be written in blood
unless the Arab world recognized Israel's right to exist
and unless Israel could reach a fair and effective settle-
ment with the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza.
Israel is prepared to do the latter, but the Arab
world has turned its back on Sadat's vision. It has
allowed the assassins to win. Li

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