Congregation B'nai Israel

2710 Park Avenue, Bridgeport, CT 06604 | (203) 336-1858 | |

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by Ira Wise, December 2018/Kislev – Tevet 5779

In 2008, the United States’ economy bottomed out, leaving the country in its worst financial state since the Great Depression. The Gross Domestic Product has grown by close to $5 trillion since then. And unemployment has fallen to 4%, the lowest point since 2003. You can choose which politicians to credit for this (if you must), but by most national indicators, the economy is in pretty decent shape.

Most of us do not use national economic indicators to buy food and clothes for our children. We use our paychecks. And the sad fact is that ten years after the Great Recession, we have members of B’nai Israel whose paychecks have not fully recovered. They sometimes find themselves struggling to figure out how to say yes to their children for activities and items that many of us don’t think twice about purchasing.

Sometimes these families just leave quietly, forgoing connections with the community, a formal Jewish education for their children and sometimes a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. They don’t see another way. I am proud that our temple has Jake Bogner, the financial secretary on our Board of Trustees whose job is to work with these members and help them understand that this is their home, and family means you get to stay no matter what.

Sometimes, reducing dues is not enough. We do not have the financial capability of reducing tuition. Our budget is simply too tight. When the Great Recession was getting under way, a few of our members decided to help. Their kids were long out of Religious School. They heard the call for help and gave us $5,000 to start a Religious School Scholarship Fund. Others joined them in contributing. And each year since, we have been able to offer scholarships to those truly in need. And each year, we give out every dollar we collected.

The pot is currently empty. We have requests for over $6,000 this year. And we are still trying to pay for some of last year’s scholarships. We will not turn a family away, but we need more help. Your help. We have three funds that provide Jewish Educational Scholarships and they all need your help.

  1. The Religious School Scholarship Fund provides need-based assistance for enrollment in our school.
  2. The Gillette Judaic Enrichment Fund, named for Marsha and Bob Gillette (our Educator Emeritus), provides funds for informal educational experiences like our camps and Israel programs.
  3. The Nursery School Scholarship Fund provides need-based assistance for enrollment in our Bonim Pre-school.

Please consider making a contribution in addition to any other giving to the temple. I invite you to drop in on a Sunday, Monday or Thursday and see our school in action. You will see kids having fun and learning at the same time. You will observe the Jewish future. And you can witness what your donation makes possible.


Ira J. Wise, D.J.R.E.
Temple Educator