Dor L’Dor Generation to Generationby Jacqueline Bull January 2, 2019
Chabad Hebrew Academy has created a new tuition program called Dor L’Dor for the upcoming school year. The reduced tuition price ($9,500) aims to remove some of the financial barrier of Jewish private school education.
“What we are trying to do is trying to let people know that Jewish education is accessible, it’s affordable, it’s available, it’s important,” Principal Liz Earne said.
Liz explained the portion of Jewish children who are attending a Jewish day school in San Diego is low.
“And we want to increase that percentage as much as possible and that is really the motivation behind this campaign, so the donors who have stepped forward to create this program, that is their goal,” she said.
“We have a group of supporters of this school, donors who have been involved with this school for many years who, in working with the administration and identifying the needs of the community and of the school, came together and collaborated to create this program. That’s where the name Dor L’Dor comes from. These are people who have been involved with the school for generations and would like to see it going forward into future generations,” she said.
And from their perspective, the lasting legacy of the school and Jewish continuity go hand in hand.
“How do we expand the reach of Jewish day school education for the future, for the future of the Jewish community? If we think about what the San Diego Jewish community will be like in 20 or 30 years, people who are children today will be adults then and they will be the leaders of the community. And we want them and the donors want them to have that foundation — that solid Jewish identity, the connection to Jewish holidays and Jewish values – is important for the continuation of the Jewish community,” she said.
“If we want Jewish leaders in the future, they need to have an understanding of Jewish values, Jewish holidays, Jewish customs – what it means to be Jewish and what it means to live a meaningful Jewish life. Without that foundation, that wouldn’t be possible,” she said.
The donors and the school are both invested in having the Jewish community in San Diego be vibrant and strong into the future and they find the most effective way to do that to be focusing on building Jewish identity in children, through education.
“It is really about building the next link in the chain, so that there will be another link after that,” she said.
Right now they have the funding for 20 spots.
“I would love to have the problem of being able to go back to the donors and say, ‘We need more. We need more spots.’ As I said before, we’ve never turned away a family for financial reasons. I don’t anticipate we will start doing so now. We will do everything we can and it is certainly a goal to increase the number of spots available,” she said.
The donors work with the administration to identify needs and what funds they can provide. Liz explained the actual cost of educating a child is higher than the $9,500, which is why they, like other private schools, do fundraising.
“One thing that is important about this program also is that the $9,500 tuition never increases. Obviously the cost of the school increases over time with inflation. And we offer salary increases to our faculty and staff and prices go up and things, but the donors have stood behind this that they will fund it at this tuition level, so that parents know when they are enrolling their children that they can make a commitment and they don’t have to worry ‘In a couple years will I not be able to afford it anymore?’ that they will know that this is a guarantee for the future. I think that is part of Dor L’Dor also is that guarantee until your child graduates from this school, you don’t have to worry about it. Your enrollment continues at this rate. You’re done,” she said.
They’ve also made efforts to simplify the application process and have forgone the financial aid application.
“We’re here to work with people. We hold their hand through the process. We make it as easy for them as we possibly can. We certainly have nothing to gain from making it more difficult [laughs]. We want it to be an easy process. We want it to be a positive experience from the get go,” she said.
Liz noted that processes like these can be intimidating and subject to information overload today.
“Young parents today are constantly streaming with all different opportunities and things that are out there, so just trying to get out there and simplify the process will help to engage new families that is our hope,” she said.
The school strives to be a helping hand for new families to assert that the school is for the entire Jewish community.
“The school is here to serve the entire Jewish community regardless of religious observance level, regardless of ethnic or national background. We have Spanish speaking families. We have Hebrew speaking families. We have Russian speaking families. We have people coming from Oceanside and Tijuana. We are really here for the whole Jewish community and that is another reason that we are trying to expand this program to new families to let them know that we are here for everyone,” she said.
“What is beautiful about that is that the kids feel it too. If you ask the students what makes this school different from other schools they will say ‘We have people here from all over the world.’ I think they mean we have people from all over San Diego [laughs], but that is their world, that is their perspective. It is amazing how even they appreciate that diversity from such a young age,” she said.