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JTNews | The Voice of Jewish Washington edition for April 30, 2010



JT86, no. 9 n f r i d ay ,






i ya r




the voice of jewish washington

Rabbi Dan Bridge, former executive director of Hillel at the University of Washington, had the platter; longtime supporter and former board president Michele Rosen had the fire; and longtime supporter Joel Gamoran had the actual piece of paper the mortgage of the Karen Mayers Gamoran Family Center for Jewish Life, home of Hillel at the University of Washington that after six years and $12 million became worth nothing more than its ashes. It was a communal endeavor. There were certainly some incredibly generous donors, said Rabbi Will Berkovitz, current Greenstein Family executive director at Hillel UW, but it wasnt just folks like that. It was really the $100 gifts, the $50 gifts, the $1,000 gifts. It was a communal effort. That, I think, says a lot about the Seattle Jewish community.

area Jewish day schools surviving but with much-needed helpJoel MagalnickEditor, JTNews


Dani Weiss Photography

Special RepoRtRelative to the news that some Jewish day schools across the country are shutting their doors, Jewish schools in Seattle appear to be surviving, and in some cases thriving. But the past two years have not been easy. While the five primary and secondary day schools have seen steady or slightly reduced attendance, drops in fundraising and increases in requests for tuition assistance have been much larger. The Northwest Yeshiva High School, the states only Jewish high school, will be covered in a future issue of JTNews. To account for these shortfalls, school administrators have had to get creative in finding grants, shifting priorities, and in some cases finding new modes of learning for the students. Compared to a number of schools in places like Memphis, Tenn., Lakewood, N.J. and even Los Angeles that have shut down or will do so at the end of the school year, things in Seattle arent so bad. The overriding theme at a January conference of four Jewish day school associations, at which representatives from several local schools were in attendance, was how to stay afloat during the economic crisis. Were all dealing with the same challenges of trying to make quality Jewish educational experiences for children, Scott Goldberg, director of the Institute for UniversitySchool Partnership at Yeshiva University, told the JTA World News Service. That commonality drove our programming from the macro-level needing to do more with less and really forcing us to reassess how we do things. While reassessment at local day schools has been ongoing some staff has been laid off or positions have been left unfilled, for example it has not for the most

part resulted in massive infrastructure changes. School leaders acknowledge a private education is expensive, and understand all too well the gap between the actual cost of a childs education and his or her familys ability to pay for it. Yet many are captive to that cost Orthodox families, and some non-Orthodox families, will not accept anything less than a comprehensive Jewish education. Public school is not an option, said Rivy Poupko Kletenik, head of school at the Seattle Hebrew Academy. For our population there really arent alternatives. Two organizations have tried to fill that gap. The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle this past year gave nearly $450,000 of campaign and auxiliary funds to each school, with the exception of the Torah Day School. But the Federation also brought in fewer dollars last year in its campaign and is running slightly behind that this year. Our goal, of course, is that any family that wants to have their kid have a quality Jewish education should be able to have that, so I think were all struggling with that same issue, said Richard Fruchter, the Federations CEO. The Samis Foundation, a trust intended specifically to provide funding for Jewish day schools thats unique to this states Jewish community, has also been able to provide much-needed relief. We have to thank God every day that we have a Samis Foundation that is helping us, Kletenik said. That is really what sets Seattle apart from other cities that are really struggling. Samis has stepped up for us, said Robert Sulkin, board president of the Jewish Day School. If we didnt have Samis, we couldnt give tuition assistance to the [level] were giving it and not reduce programming. But if the recession continues, all the assistance going to the five elementary day schools may simply be prolonging some difficult decisions. Page 12

If the recession continues,certainly Samis does not have enough resources that we can make up the gap of increasing scholarship needs and decreasing individual donations, said Rabbi Rob Toren, Samiss grants administrator. In response to the recession, Samis increased its allocation to schools by 7 percent last year and 8 percent for the upcoming year. Were looking at deficits despite that increase, Toren said. The Federation assesses the increase in need will be 20 to 30 percent. Though theres some glimmer of blue sky in the economy, it takes time for that to translate to individual families, and then campaigns and philanthropy, Fruchter said. Its still not a happy scenario for schools, or our social service agencies, or even the Federation itself. Despite the economic difficulties, all five schools believe they are doing okay, if not well. Jewish Day School of Metropolitan Seattle According to Maria Erlitz, head of school at the Jewish Day School in Bellevues Crossroads neighborhood, things are going very, very well. They have lost some students, though not all attrition has been directly related to the economy, but the incoming kindergarten is larger than this years 8th grade graduating class. In addition, Erlitz told JTNews, she has been receiving an inordinate number of inquiries from parents with children in public schools about applying for the middle school. Classes, even on Mercer Island, [are] getting to be over 30 kids, she said. Its not looking as pretty as they hoped it would. That every 8th grade student who applied last year

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Early Spring Family CalendarFor complete details about these and other upcoming JFS events and workshops, please visit our website: www.jfsseattle.orgFor the coMMunity For pArents For JeWish WoMenPrograms of Project DVORA (Domestic Violence Outreach, Response & Advocacy) are free of charge.

AA Meetings at JFStuesdays at 7:00 p.m. JFS, 1601 16th Avenue, Seattlem

PEPSPEPS is now offering a peer support group experience for parents of newborns within a culturally relevant context. Jewish and interfaith parents are invited to join us! Contact Marjorie Schnyder, (206) 861-3146, familylife@jfsseattle.org or go to http://www.pepsgroup.org/register-for-peps/jfs.

Chai ChavurahA Judaic/12 Step Study Gathering for Jews in or considering recovery, their families and their friends. m saturday, May 8 Second Saturday each month 1:00 p.m. Temple Bnai Torah. 15727 NE 4th, Bellevue Contact Eve M. Ruff, (206) 861-8782 or emruff@jfsseattle.org

Confidential Support GroupPeer support, education and healing for Jewish women with controlling partners. m ongoing Confidential location, dates and time. Contact Project DVORA, (206) 461-3240 or contactus@jfsseattle.org

Parenting Mindfully: The Middah of FaithDrawing on Jewish Values through Musar m sunday, May 16 11:00 a.m. 12:30 p.m. Co-sponsored by and held at Temple Bnai Torah 15727 NE 4th Street, Bellevue FREE. Advance registration encouraged. Contact Marjorie Schnyder, (206) 861-3146 or familylife@jfsseattle.org

For Adults Age 60+

Endless OpportunitiesA community-wide program offered in partnership with Temple Bnai Torah & Temple De Hirsch Sinai. EO events are free and open to the public.

For single pArent FAMilies

Navigating the Elder NetworkWith Pam Piering, Director of Aging and Disability Services, City of Seattle m thursday, May 6 10:00 11:30 a.m. Temple Bnai Torah. 15727 NE 4th, Bellevue

Healthy Relationships, Responsive CommunitiesFacilitated by Danica Bornstein, MSW, LICSW Discuss the impact of community on our intimate relationships and explore Jewish values, while learning strategies for building the kind of supportive, responsive communities in which healthy intimate relationships can thrive. m Monday, May 3 6:30 8:30 p.m. At JFS, 1601 16th Ave., Seattle $10/person. Scholarships available. Contact Michelle Lifton, (206) 861-3159 or mlifton@jfsseattle.org

What About Homelessness?A Committee Which is Making a Difference m tuesday, May 25 10:00 11:30 A.M. Temple De Hirsch Sinai 1530 East Union, Seattle RSVP Ellen Hendin, (206) 861-3183 or endlessopps@jfsseattle.org regarding all Endless Opportunities programs.

Dinner & A Movie!Join other Jewish single moms and dads and their children for dinner, a chance for parents to talk & connect and a movie for the kids! With a catered kosher meal and movie snacks. m sunday, May 16 5:00 8:00 p.m. JFS, 1601-16th Avenue, Seattle Advance registration required by May 11. Donations welcome. Contact Marjorie Schnyder, (206) 861-3146 or familylife@jfsseattle.org

For children oF Aging pArents

Difficult Behaviors: Responding to Depression, Mental Illness & Substance AbusePart of the Caring for Our Aging Parents Workshop Series Learn to recognize depression or substance abuse in your aging parents, and how to help them obtain the