Brian Kemp and I first met at the 2011 Georgia State Republican Convention, when I was on the state Board of Education and Brian was Secretary of State. Since then, we have become good friends, and conversed about a range of topics, from education to business to the Jewish community.
Brian knows my passion for education and the importance I place on Jewish day school for my children. In most of the world, federal governments cover all education costs K-12, whether it is for a secular school or a Jewish day school. This does not happen in the United States. For those of us seeking Jewish education, we have limited options – pay with after tax income or get help from family.
Then along came the Georgia Student Scholarship Organizations in 2008, which include the ALEF Fund. This allows Jewish children the ability to attend a Jewish school, which their families otherwise may have been unable to afford. At the same time, contributors to the ALEF Fund receive an 100 percent state tax credit in exchange.
In 2019, SSOs will distribute $100 million to numerous schools in Georgia, including Jewish day schools like Davis, Epstein, AJA, and pre-K synagogue Hebrew schools. Since its inception in 2008, the ALEF Fund has provided over $17 million in tuition assistance to allow children the option to attend Jewish schools!
The good news is that even more will go toward Jewish schools if Brian is elected, as he intends to increase the amount to $200 million! However, the same cannot be said of Stacey Abrams. In fact, Abrams has publicly stated her disdain for private schools, be they Jewish or otherwise. Her intent is to do away with the ALEF Fund and all SSOs. This should be a concern for all Jewish Georgians.
Jewish education is one of the most important assets we have to instill a strong Jewish identity in our next generation. With tuition increasing at all Jewish schools and enrollment declining at most of them, we need tools like the ALEF Fund to make it easier for parents to make the decision to go down the Jewish education path.
Of all the issues facing the Jewish community and that can be addressed by the gubernatorial candidates, the ALEF Fund impacts us directly. Know that with Brian Kemp as governor, we will have an advocate for Jewish education in office.
Dan Israel has been a Republican activist for several years. Professionally, he is a digital executive with over 25 years of experience.
For more opinions about Stacy Abrams and Brian Kemp, click the photos below.