My blog site is getting quite a few hits. There are more than 320 people who have read my story about the millions of dollars wasted by the Jess Schwartz Administration, which I posted on June 12. I am including a report that is generated by WordPress, the site host, that verifies that I am being truthful about the readership of my blog.
I appreciate the feedback and the questions that are being sent to me about the issues surrounding the merger of Pardes and Jess Schwartz Academy, the lack of financial disclosure at Pardes, and the mismanagement and change of mission at the Jewish Federation. I have received ten emails that are framed around the question about what I think the parents should do about the merger of the schools. Because the question of the school merger is most pressing, and because the merger is not completed, I am going to focus on that topic.
Rabbi Kahn’s article mourning the loss of the Reform School is a must read. I do not want to take Rabbi Kahn’s words out of context because his article about the merger is both scholarly, insightful, and copyrighted. I do not have permission to reprint the blog here on my blog nor have I asked for it. The following passage is a small portion of his writings on the subject of the merger and should not be taken out of the context in which it was written. But clearly, he shares with many of us a profound sadness, and has his own misgivings about the wisdom of the decision.
I think that you should ask your Rabbi to publicly provide guidance on this matter, especially if your Rabbi is a Reform Rabbi’s whose Temples send kids to Pardes. I think this is Temple Chai, Temple Solel, Temple Emanuel of Tempe, Temple Kol Ami and Temple Gan Elohim, and Kehillah of Arizona. These are learned men and women who have many years of learning and I do believe it is their place to provide commentary, for or against the merger, and to provide guidance.
Until the other Reform Rabbis come forward and we can have a consensus, or in the absence of the Rabbi’s coming forward, then the leadership void must be filled by parental action. There is really only one parental action that is effective, and that is to withhold your re-enrollments until we get the answers that make us feel comfortable about what will happen at Pardes. I know that withholding re-enrollments would be a very effective action because the Board Members with whom I have spoken have urged me to refrain from asking parents to withhold their re-enrollments if they are unhappy with the merger. Due to the fact that there are ten parents brave enough to be writing me, the witholding of $120,000 of tuition, until we get the answers we are entitled to receive as parents and supporters of Pardes, will put an unpleasant amount of financial pressure on Pardes. 20 parents doing this, withholding tuition until we get the openness and answers we are entitled to get, would certainly get the attention of the Pardes Board. The Board’s silence in the face of so many questions, reflects an arrogance and a misunderstanding of their mission in leading the school. Unlike a heavily traded corporation where the shares are heavily diluted, there are about two hundred families sending their children to Pardes. Without the tuition from two hundred familes, Pardes becomes Jess Schwartz Academy, a collection of empty buildings. Moving the school into forced Pluralism, where the t’fillah is going to be designed by Rabbi Kanter (who I am sure is a very fine Rabbi), an ordained Conservative Rabbi, without consulting the Reform families, seems to be smug, misguided, and the kind of high handed action that I would expect from the Board of Jess Schwartz Academy, not Pardes. Certainly, the continual circular referencing of what this will mean to have PEJE and Ravsak (see blog of the 12th) on board and supporting the merger is very far from comforting.
It is clear, that the immediate way to help Pardes, and insure the future of the school, will be to enact the tough medicine of withholding tuition, pledges of support, gifts, and the like, to make sure this last Jewel of the Reform Jewish Community of Phoenix is not swallowed by the chronic mismanagement that has destroyed two schools and set fire to the educational assets of the community.
Until the Board understands their responsibility to the parents of the students who attend the school and decides to be open about Pardes’ finances, the exact reasons for the merger, and explains to us why abandoning the Reform Jewish affiliation that has served the school so well is smart, then the continual financial support is akin to enabling an addiction. If the school fails, like JSA and King David did before, we will all regret, and be to blame for not holding the board accountable for their actions.