There is a certain delicious irony in Abe Foxman’s recent op-ed. No doubt Jewish education is a significant factor in fostering Jewish continuity and creativity. No one seriously committed to Jewish life can avoid the fact that full-time Jewish primary and secondary education borders on the financially prohibitive, rivaling college costs.
In the 1990s, then Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin made a similar suggestion. He said that Israel had become a wealthy First World nation no longer in need of Diaspora charity. Further, he argued, American-Jewish charitable dollars would be better spent if invested in the infrastructure — education — of the American-Jewish community. Indeed, he observed, Israel then already had a large cohort of very wealthy citizens but an as yet undeveloped charitable sector.
Beilin then was pilloried for his candor and clarity of thought by many both in Israel and the American-Jewish community. At the behest of some influential American Jews, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin ordered Beilin to recant.
Plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose.
Elihu D. Davison