UNHCRJ surprises members with religious school without tuition


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The Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism proves that the values ​​and lessons learned from a Jewish education are invaluable.

The synagogue announced on June 30 that it would waive religious school fees for all members of the congregation for the 2020-21 school year.

UNHCRJ’s latest initiative – A Year of Chesed (Kindness) – kicked off with the big announcement, relieving financial stress in times of uncertainty.

“We don’t want financial obligations to be an obstacle to maintaining our continued relationship with the congregation, especially in continuing Jewish education for children,” UNHCRJ Rabbi Steve Gross told JHV.

“We want our community to know that we will be there for you and continue our education.”

When the director of Lifelong Learning, Mike Mason, presented the idea to the HCRJ Education Council, it was very emotional.

“It was greeted with great gratitude to the point where there were genuine tears,” Mason told JHV.

“In these uncertain times, we wanted to make a big deposit into our community’s collective emotional bank accounts to show that we are with them, that we care about ourselves and that we know what people are going through because we are. live ourselves. ”

HCRJ has around 115 students – from kindergarten to high school – in its religious school. The congregation has not made a final decision on the start of the school year in person or remotely.

“We have a plan A, a plan B, a plan C, then a plan A, an underscore 1 and so on,” Mason said. “It changes from week to week.

“In any case, Jewish education for children is fundamental. The children were not able to go to summer camp this year to get their values ​​and identity. We do not want them to deprive themselves of these fundamentals and the values ​​they learn in religious school.

“These values ​​will guide the next generation. We want to make sure we do our part to make these formable years tangible. ”

Michelle Leben’s two boys celebrated their B’nai Mitzvah at HCRJ last year and relied on all the programs and relationships provided by HCRJ.

“My two boys don’t know any other Jewish children in their public schools, so the HCRJ religious school provided a great opportunity for my children to bond with other Jewish children who have similar education and values,” Leben told JHV.

“The HCRJ Religious School Program has amazing teachers who provide engaging instruction and helpful advice, who have prepared my boys very well to become a B’nai Mitzvah.

“I think HCRJ is family, and giving free classes in religious schools this year is a wonderful gift for the whole family. So many devotees face financial challenges as a result of COVID-19 and may have had to make a difficult choice as to whether or not they could continue with their religious education.

“This donation from HCRJ allows the HCRJ family to continue to grow and learn together, either in person or virtually, and we will be a stronger community in the future because of it. It is the gift that will continue to give.

The tuition relief is only part of HCRJ’s larger plan for the upcoming religious school year.

“Each year we choose a theme, and this year we will apply and reiterate the chesed to everything we do,” Rabbi Gross said. “It will be very multi-layered.

“We will extend this extra kindness to our mitzvah day, and with kindness to animals, kindness to the land, and kindness to the aging population. We want to nourish this human quality in us.

In unpredictable times, a little kindness can do a lot of good.

“It’s important for everyone to know that there is support available in different ways,” Mason said. “Compassion is part of everything we do. We’re going to work through this, and kindness will lead the way. ”

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