Parashat Ki Tissa

Tzedakah And Jewish Education

Our communal responsibility to ensure the immortality of the Jewish people depends on our commitment to supporting Jewish education.

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A Tale From the Talmud

A tale from the Talmud: The wealthy Rabbi Tarfon once asked Rabbi Akiva to help him invest his money. Rabbi Akiva took the funds and used it instead to allow poor students to continue their Jewish education. Several days later, when Rabbi Tarfon asked to see his investments, Rabbi Akiva took him to the school and showed him the students as they recited their lessons from the Bible. When they arrived at the verse, "He gives freely to the poor; his righteousness endures forever," Rabbi Akiva pointed to the students and said, "This is the investment I made for you!"

There is no greater investment than in supporting places of Jewish learning--our day schools, synagogues, and seminaries. If there is to be a Jewish community tomorrow, it will be as a result of the hardworking Jewish educators--rabbis, cantors, teachers, principals, and others--who provide a sense of Jewish identity, piety, and involvement both for children and for adults.

Without Jewish education, we cannot survive. And, as today's Torah verse indicates, the responsibility to support Jewish education rests on each one of us. Rich and poor, together we must assure Jewish survival with our shekels, our involvement, and our hearts.

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Rabbi Bradley Artson

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson is Vice-President of the American Jewish University in Los Angeles and Dean of its Ziegler School of Rabbinical Studies. He served as a congregational rabbi in Southern California for ten years. Rabbi Artson?is the author of The Bedside Torah and co-author of a children's book, I Have Some Questions about God.