So how do Melbourne, London and Montreal maintain economically affordable, academically excellent Jewish schools? Simple: The government picks up part of the tab, often by covering the cost of the school’s secular subjects. If American Jews want our Jewish schools to flourish, we must push our government to do the same.
Doing so would constitute a radical shift. Outside the Orthodox community, American Jewish organizations have for decades opposed government funding for religious schools. The most common objection is that by intertwining church and state, such funding threatens religious liberty, a deep concern for a religious group that comprises roughly 2% of the U.S. population.
But that fear is overblown. Government aid to Jewish schools in Australia, Britain and Canada doesn’t mean that Jews in those countries enjoy less religious liberty than their American counterparts. Even in America, state and local governments already pay for the cost of special education in religious schools.