An initiative to help children get enrolled in Yeshiva
This is Sholom Morgan. I hope you are well.
For thousands of years, Jews have been known as “the people of the Book.” Hashem (G-d) is quoted in His Torah as commanding Jews to study His Torah and perform the mitzvot (Biblical commandments) in it. Despite years of persecution, oppression and dispersion, the common bond that has kept Jews all over the world united is their shared belief in the Torah and its dictates. Every time a Jew studies the Torah and performs mitzvot, he continues the chain of Jewish tradition that extends to the giving of the Torah by Hashem to the Jews more than 3,300 years ago. This is why Jews are characterized as “the people of the Book.” That Book is, of course, the Torah.
A method had to be developed to facilitate the study of the Torah to masses of Jews. It so happens that it was developed at a crucial time in the history of the Jewish people in Israel shortly before the destruction of the Second Bait Hamikdash (Temple).
The Talmud (Baba Batra 21a) tells the story of Yehoshua ben Gamla (Hebrew: יהושע בן גמלא). He was a Jewish high priest in about 64-65 CE. “Rabbi Yehuda said in the name of Rab: The name of that man is to be blessed, Yehoshua ben Gamla. Were it not for him the Torah would have been forgotten from Israel.”
If a child had a father, the Talmud reports, his father taught him the Torah. But if the child had no father, the child did not study at all. So a law was passed that teachers of children be appointed in Jerusalem. Still, if a child had a father, he would take his child to Jerusalem to have him taught. But if a child had no father, he would not study. So another law was passed that teachers be appointed in each town and that boys should begin to enter school at age 16 or 17.
They did so. However, if the teacher punished them, they would rebel and leave the school. So Yehoshua ben Gamla ordained that teachers of young children should be appointed in each district and each town, and that children should begin school at the age of six or seven.
Yehoshua ben Gamla is thus credited with being the founder of the “yeshiva” (Jewish day school) movement.
It is highly unlikely that Jewish parents in the era of Yehoshua ben Gamla paid large sums of money for tuition so their children could study. Unfortunately, that is not the case today. Orthodox yeshivot (Jewish day schools) needs vast sums of money to educate children. Among the reasons are two sets of staff (Judaic and secular); the high cost of kosher food; and the costs normally associated with schools such as utilities, support staff, etc.
The high cost of tuition continues to prevent many parents from enrolling their children in Orthodox yeshivot. Scholarships are available at some Orthodox yeshivot but not nearly enough money is raised to enable all parents who so desire to send their children to a yeshiva.
You can help. Torah Educational Network is a 501(c)(3) non-profit (EIN 59-3806038). Its mission is to award grants to parents to enroll their children in yeshivot. The money raised will be used for this purpose. Parents need only provide proof of financial need to qualify. All donations are tax-deductible.
Please help this very worthy cause. And while you are on this website, check out the books authored by Sholom Morgan as well as the many other interesting features!