There is a beautiful achdus and warmth in our community. We have so many different types of shuls and everyone comes to together to help one another. I am so grateful to be living in such a special place. When there is a need in our community or in Klal YIsrael, our community joins together to meet the challenges. An urgent need has risen to the forefront right now in our community in these critical weeks right before school begins. R’ Yaniv Meirov, Chazaq operations Manager, tapped into this crisis in our community with his “no child left behind” initiative, which began last summer. There are 10,000 children –Jewish children attending public school in Queens. Sadly, Queens has the largest number of Jewish children attending public school of any borough in New York. Rabbi Yigal Haimoff spoke about this on Tisha B’Av. He called it a chilul Hashem. Jewish education, as we know, is the single most important way to stave off intermarriage and assimilation.
Chazaq hosted a Yeshiva night on Sunday evening, August 20, at Yeshiva Central Queens which created a friendly welcoming forum for parents to meet principals and check out yeshivas for their children. Many kiruv yeshivas in Queens and some from Long Island and Brooklyn participated. BH, the tireless dedication and hard work of R’Meirov and Chazaq bore fruit with this large turn-out of parents and yeshiva representatives. Just like the previous yeshiva night that was held last year at Beth Gavriel, the goal was to sign up as many children as possible in yeshiva. The majority of these children are enrolled in public school.
There were also organizations there to help with tuition. Our Jewish Children is one such Queens- based organizations. Our Jewish Children is run by this writer’s husband and this writer. sat at the Our Jewish Children booth with my husband, Rabbi Robert Garber and with parents We met many many parents who need help and who are currently sending their children to public school. It was gratifying to hear so many parents express interest in sending their children to yeshiva, but at the same time it was heart-wrenching to hear so many difficult stories and to think of these Jewish children attending public school. Many parents brought their children with them. An overwhelming amount of people who want to take their children out of public school and place them in yeshiva are faced with financial obstacles. All of them asked us for help. How can we say no to someone who wants to send their child to yeshiva? We can’t!
A boy is crying: “Please I don’t want to go to public school.” A mother is pleading with her husband but he doesn’t want to send them because the tuition is so high. A single mother struggles trying to find the right school for her teenagers and needs financial assistance. A frum mother home schools her children in yiddishkeit because she can’t afford yeshiva tuition. She spoke about how her sons wear their tzittzis and kipos when they play with the children from public school. She worried that as her boys grow older the peer pressure at public school may be overwhelming for them. Another mother came over to us. She shared that her son was a top student and he just graduated from a Queens elementary yeshiva. He is enrolled this year in John Baum for high school and he is terrified of going there. She wants him to attend yeshiva high school but she can’t afford yeshiva high school because she has health issues and can’t work full time. Another mother pleaded for help for her children. Her husband has a serious illness and she can’t afford tuition. Another mother shared that her son has a learning disability. She is trying to find the right yeshiva where he will fit in and learn and that she can afford.
There are so many more people who need our help. These are our Jewish children! They belong in yeshiva. BH, there are so many wonderful kiruv yeshivas and other yeshivas to choose from in our community. The amazing miracle is all the parents, many of them are Russian or Bukharin, sincerely want their children to receive a Jewish education, but the tuition is a barrier for them.
While sitting there collecting pages of names and listening to parents who really want the best for their children, I felt frustrated because we don’t have the ability to fund all of them. Then I thought of something I heard in the name of Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis a”h. She said that sometimes even if you can’t do anything, it helps for others to know you feel their pain. Thinking about this helped me deal with the fact that even though I can’t promise everyone tuition help at this time, I can daven to be able to help everyone.
Our Jewish Children needs your help to help bring more children to yeshiva. This past year, in response to Chazaq ‘s initiative to move students in public schools into yeshiva, it multiplied its commitment by a factor of 700%. Before the event, it had already committed to assist 25 new students to attend yeshiva in this upcoming year not only in New York City and its suburbs, but also in Miami and Denver. That commitment is continuing to grow.
Our Jewish Children cannot do this alone, just as Chazaq cannot do this alone. The community needs to step up and help with donations. R’ Meirov pointed out that there are another thousand who didn’t come to the yeshiva night event.
I just sat there thinking about all those many years ago when I was in college and we went to so many rallies to try to free the Jews in the Soviet Union. B”H, many of our Russian brothers and sisters came to America. Now, a new generation of children needs to have the gift of a Jewish education. This is what we prayed for all those years ago.
Our Jewish Children greatly needs assistance to cover its funding gap for the 2016-17 school year, and to help for the upcoming year. Our Jewish Children is a registered 501(c)(3) charity, and is fully tax-deductible. It has no salaries, and all work is volunteer. It’s only expenses are related to publicizing it’s mission to seek out funding. Please take advantage of the opportunity to gain a share in the tremendous mitzvah of enabling Jewish children to learn about their heritage, and help build the future of Judaism in the United States. Tax deductible donations can be made to Our Jewish Children, 147-37 70th Avenue, Flushing, NY 11367 or at www.ourjewishchildren.com.
“This is an eternal investment,” Mr. Robbie Neuman, noted. “Investing in Our Jewish Children is like Chickens for Shabbos.”
IY”H, may all the thousands of Jewish children in Queens and all over the world leave public school and enroll in yeshiva and may we stop assimilation and inter-marriage and bring Mashiach now.