Bills, Budgets and Giving Back: Financial Literacy at HAA

Students at Halpern Akiva Academy are learning about financial literacy,

by Rabbi Nachum Aaron Kutnowski

(AJNews) – The conversation around financial literacy education in schools has grown in recent years. Society’s understanding that students need the skills and knowledge to manage their personal financial situation competently is well-known. How to best implement such ideas on a curricular level is still highly debated and contested. Financial literacy is more than knowing about legal tender, financial constructs and having the ability to apply these concepts. It is also about helping students to make informed decisions, while considering the ethical aspects of those decisions.

With this in mind, Halpern Akiva Academy (HAA) has partnered with Rabbi Nisan Andrews, the Rabbi of the HOJMI congregation, to do a week-long series on Finances and Tzedakah. Some areas that students will hopefully cover are: Torah sources for giving charity, Who is responsible to give charity, Prioritization of who to give charity to, calculating personal gross revenue and tithing one’s monies, among other concepts and ideas.

When Rabbi Andrews was approached about this collaboration, he shared, “It is a biblical obligation for a person to work and provide for themselves, as well as share from the wealth that Hashem gives them.”

Grades 6-9 students at HAA will also be sharpening their money-managing skills in a joint effort between general and Judaic studies teachers. Students will be participating in a financial literacy project as part of their math program, in which they’ll be tasked with managing a practice personal budget.

“It’s really important to know how to make a budget and manage your money,” explained a student in Grade 8. “I don’t want to have to learn this the hard way when I’m older by making mistakes. I want to be independent and also still give back to charity.”

Making a budget and, perhaps the hardest part, sticking to it, will be the focus of our older students. They’ll be relied upon to make sound financial decisions when it comes to renting an apartment, paying monthly bills, and purchasing groceries, while also ensuring they can continue to give back to the community.

A parent shared, “We are excited to hear Akiva will be implementing this program into the junior high students curriculum. Instilling the importance of practical education that extends into their future lives makes school go beyond the walls of study, into real life.”

Rabbi Nachum Aaron Kutnowski is Head of Judaic Studies at Halpern Akiva Academy in Calgary. 

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