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PAGE 16A HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JANUARY 17, 2014 i ii i ii Day schools trying to put new face on financial aid Kindergarten teacher Nirit School in California. By Julie Wiener NEW YORK (JTA)--Tehi- yah Day School in El Cerrito, Calif., had a problem. Like many Jewish day schools throughout North America, Tehiyah has plenty of students from lower-income families and a number from affluent ones. But it couldn't seem to recruit and retain many middle-class students, even as it devoted increasing amounts to financial aid. Middle-class parents "felt they wouldn't be considered courtesy of Tehiyah Day School Yakov lighting a menorah with a student at Tehiyah Day for financial aid or were just on the border of whether they could get aid," said Bathea James, Tehiyah's head of school. "For many who felt they were reasonably finan- cially successful, to fill out a financial aid form just wasn't something they'd be willing to consider." So last year, James tried a new strategy: Instead of post- ing a single tuition price and urging those who couldn't afford it to apply for a schol- arship, the school now posts a tuition range, from $7,950 to $22,450 for the 2014-15 academic year. Known as indexed tuition, the plan permits parents to pay reduced tuition. To qualify for lower amounts, parents still must submit financial forms not entirely unlike what was required in the old aid application. So the change is more about presentation than substance. But James said something about the system feels different. "It's a door opener for middle-income families," she said. "They say if it's based on what I can afford, let's at least have a look at it." In response to mounting concerns about the increasing affordability of Jewish educa- tion, day schools across North America are experimenting with new approaches to tu- ition and financial aid. Some, like Oakland Hebrew Day School in California, have introduced indexed tuition models, sometimes also re- ferred to as "flex" or "sliding scale" tuition. Others have moved to cap tuition as a percentage of family income. The Solomon Schechter School of Greater Boston launched its iCap program in the 2012-13 term that guar- antees a family will never be required to spend more than 15 percent of its household income on tuition. It means families with incomes as high as $400,000--more than four times the median household income in Massa- chusetts-can still be eligible for financial aid if they have three or more children en- rolled and have assets under a certain threshold. As with Tehiyah's indexed tuition, iCap isn't actually costing the school any more money; most families would receive similar assistance had they applied for financial aid under the traditional system. But it does help with sticker shock, particularly for fami- l ieswho by national standards are far from poor but still struggle to cover the cost of a Jewish day school education. "Most families inthathigh- end income bracket don't even imagine theywould qualify for a scholarship," said Dan Perla, program officer for day school finance at the Avi Chai Foun- dation. The iCap program, he said, "makes it really easy and really transparent." Another Boston school, Maimonides, is introducing a version of the program next year. And the Avi Chai Foun- dation is helping two other day schools--Belt Rabban in Manhattan and the Rob- bins Hebrew Academy in To- ronto-pilot similar efforts. Some schools are develop- ing elaborate and sometimes costly discounts designed not just to attract new families but to reduce attrition. Hillel Day School in sub- urban Detroit is launching a "tuition subvention" program in 2014-15 that provides a tuition credit to each student that increases by $1,000 each year they stay in the school, regardless of family income. Milwaukee Day School tried a similar approach, of- fering tuition discounts that continue each year a student remains in the school. The strategy resulted in the en- rollment of 55 new students last year--one of the largest increases ever seen by the school, according to Head of School Brian King. But the incentive, which was a one-time offer available only to students enrolled at the school during the 2012-13 academic year, failed to arrest the school's long-term decline in enrollment. The school cur- rently has 190 students, down from last year's 208. One approach Perla and other experts generally dis- courage is across-the-board tuition cuts, which they say can be financially unsus- tainable and do not lead to long-term enrollment gains. A recent study of 200 schools conducted by Measuring Success, a consulting firm specializing in data analysis for non-profits, found that contrary to conventional wis- dom, raising tuition does not lead to decreased enrollment. In addition, many point to the experience of sev- eral Cleveland-area Jewish day schools that collectively decreased tuition in the early 2000s without seeing an increase in enrollment or fundraising revenues in the years that followed. Two of the schools even- tually raised tuition again and now are initiating more modest incentives, providing discounts for Jewish commu- nal professionals and families that recruit other families. By Josh Hasten JNS.org A recently revealed Is- raeli State Comptroller's report that remains under a government gag order has ignited concern over the Muslim Waqf's attempts to erase Jewish ties on the Temple Mount--Judaism's holiest site--and Israeli authorities' neglect of those activities. The classified document, whose contents were pub- lished by the New York- based newspaper The Jew- ish Voice, details ongoing illegal excavations being carried out on the Temple Mount by the Muslim Waqf (trust) and places blame on those responsible for over- seeing the site--namely the Israel Antiquities Authority, the Jerusalem Municipality, and the Israeli police. The report suggests that those Israeli bodies have been turning a blind eye to the damage caused by the Waqf pertaining to ancient Jewish archeological findings. In response to the leak, attorney Aviad Visoly-- chairman of the Joint Staff Movement of the Jewish Temple Mount Organiza- tions, an umbrella for 27 bodies that advocate for Jewish rights on the Temple Mount--said that he has sent a letter to the state comptroller requesting an immediate removal of the gag order so that Members of Knesset can discuss its findings. Visoly told JNS.org that the goal of the Muslims on the Temple Mount "is to eliminate all remnants of Temple Mount report ignites concern over !sraers0000ser0000n of Jewish history." Neverthe- less, he is optimistic that as a result of the report, along with a"tremendous rise" in the willingness of Jews to visit the Temple Mount, "we are on the verge of a revolu- tion of a state of affairs in which for the first time in 2,000 years, Jews will be able to pray freely on the Temple Mount." Visoly says that currently around 100,000 non-Muslims visit the site per year, with approximately a third of them being Jew- ish. Israel's chief rabbinate opposes visits by Jews to the Temple Mount due to the concern that they may in- advertently step into an area that, according to halacha, is forbidden to enter unless one is ritually pure. Yisrael Medad, the secre- tary of the El Har Hashem Temple Mount advocacy group and a member of the Temple Mount orga- nizations' coordinating council, told JNS.org that while according to Israeli law Jewish worship on the Temple Mount is legal, there is "collusion between the government, police, and the courts, who don't want any problems." Police at the site forbid Jewish prayer, claim- ing that allowing it will cause the Muslims to riot or could even ignite another violent intifada (uprising). Medad said that over the years, Israeli courts "have blindly accepted claims by the police that [Jewish worship] is illegal on the Temple Mount," but that information contained in the comptroller's report itself debunks that myth. Medad cited one instance in 1967 when Jewish prayer was temporarily banned, while the report explains in a footnote "that it appears that no general decision was made to forbid Jews from praying on the Temple Mount." According to Medad, the report shows "that whatever laudatory government aims are in protecting law and order, the status quo only exists for the Jews, and even worse, the Muslims are destroying archeologicai artifacts." "It's one thing to say that the Temple Mount should be kept off the heater, but what they are actually doing is giving in on every single issue to Muslim fanaticism and destroying or not pro- tecting anything Jewish there," he said. Like all Israeli govern- ments since 1967, the cur- rent government "doesn't want to give the Jews any rights on the Temple Mount other than free access to the site," said Medad. Israeli authorities "haven't done the minimum to protect Jewish history, archeology, and construction, which [by doing so] doesn't have to ignite World War III," he added. Yitzchak Reuven--as- sistant-director of the In- ternational Department at The Temple Institute, an educational, not-for-profit organization which focuses on the universal signifi- cance of the Holy Temple as a house of peace and prayer for all nations--told JNS.org that he believes the comptroller's document proves that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has in effect given the Israeli police full authority on the site to act on behalf of the Jerusalem Municipality, the body which is supposed to approve all construction in the city, and on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, which is tasked with main- taining a presence at all sites relating to historical archeological digs. Reuven expresses grave concern in regard to ex- tensive construction work currently being carried out by the Waqf"without super- vision or authorization." He says that the police "never say no the Muslim Waqf [for carrying out their projects], but always give them the green light." Regarding the 1994 peace agreement between Israel and Jordan, which was supposed to A view of the Temple Mount. ensure freedom of worship for all monotheistic faiths on the Temple Mount, Re- uven says that "Jordan and [the Jordanian] Waqf have essentially reneged on the agreement, but nobody says anything about it." Israel is "willfully not exercising sovereignty over Temple Mount, thus creat- ing a vacuum which the Waqf has filled," claims Reuven. As a result, he says that Jews who ascend to visit the site are often screamed at and intimidated by Muslims who are hired and compensated by Raed Salah, the leader of the Northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, to sit on the Temple Mount for the purpose of disrupt- ing visits by Jews as well as other non-Muslims. "If the Muslims decided to cause a scene, the po- Godot13 via Wikimedia Commons lice ]won't stop them but] will remove the Jews from the area, since the Jews represent a path of least resistance. In light of the report, it seems incontro- vertible that the police are getting specific instruc- tions from their superiors and ultimately from the prime minister's office that their jobs will be on the line, if they screw up [and there are disturbances]," Reuven said. "The Temple Mount is used as an alarm by the Muslims to terrify a lot of people by saying that the Muslim world will rise up anytime a Jew moves a stone [at the site]," added Reuven. "Israel has educated its own people to replace the importance and yearning of the Temple Mount with the Western Wall."