Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Birmingham's Beth-El Eliminates Religious School Tuition

Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El has made a major policy change in its religious school program — no tuition fees for members, and the school is now open to children of non-members, with at least one Jewish parent, at a “modest” rate of $360 per child annually.

The board passed the new policy last month, “emphasizing the value of Jewish education.” The change takes effect with the school year that was to begin on Aug. 28. Once enrolled in the school, all students in grades 3-12 will also automatically be enrolled in a Jewish youth group. As a Conservative congregation, it has Chaverim, Kadima and United Synagogue Youth chapters.

According to Beth-El Executive Director Bob Greenberg, the policy is “based on the belief that Jewish education should be the right of every Jewish child, not a privilege… this policy will enable unaffiliated Jewish families to embrace Jewish learning without impediment.” Greenberg began as Beth-El executive director this summer after previously serving as head of school at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School.

The change comes as Rabbi Ira Flax takes over the education and youth programs. Flax is an ordained rabbi who served as a military chaplain at Maxwell Air Force Base and other locations.