Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Dear Student,

One of the greatest Jewish philanthropy initiatives of recent times has been Birthright Israel, which has awarded a free trip to Israel to all Jews under the age of twenty-eight, Birthright Israel is credited with strengthening a sense of Jewish identification in young unaffiliated Jews that lasts long after the trip is over.

It is a great irony that at the same time that Birthright Israel has flourished, Jewish day school education has undergone its own crisis of funding. Rising tuition has made day school an unaffordable luxury for many Jewish children.

While both these projects are admirable and important ones, when forced to choose, what is the real birthright? A visit to Israel, or a chance to attend a Jewish school? National pride and identity or the opportunity to study Torah and one’s spiritual heritage?

Two thousand years ago,Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai was forced to decide where limited Jewish resources would be allocated. What was more important: the temple or the academy? National identity or knowledge of a heritage? What would he decide? And does his decision have implications for our decisions today?

Please join as for Lesson Two as we explore this issue.

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