Fourth grader Gabriela’s whole life changed when she switched from public school to Mazel Day School, a Blue-Ribbon award-winning Chabad school in southern Brooklyn, New York. “I keep Shabbat and I go to synagogue now,” she shares. “I am so happy to feel a part of my people.”
Gabriela is one of 459 former public school students who transferred to Jewish Day Schools with help from the Menachem Education Foundation’s Our Heritage program. Founded two short years ago, the Our Heritage program gives the timeless gift of a Torah education to Jewish students by providing $25,000 matching grants to Chabad day schools that enroll 10 or more students from public schools.
20 Chabad day schools worldwide are participating in the 2022-2023 school year, the third year since Our Heritage launched. These day schools are recognized for providing a strong foundation in Judaic studies, transmitting core Jewish values, and offering high-level STEM curricula as well.
“The Our Heritage program is one of MEF’s programs that I am most proud of,” says Rabbi Zalman Shneur, founder and executive director of the organization. “There is no greater Shlichus than facilitating children’s Torah learning. Parents feel like they get the best of all worlds: help with tuition while their children benefit from both a general and Jewish studies knowledge base, all with a strong sense of pride in their Jewish beliefs.”
To date, Our Heritage had awarded $950,000 in matching grants to 28 Chabad Day Schools. Participating schools noted a 79% retention rate on enrolled students heading into the next academic year.
Shelby Watkins, a student at Bader Hillel High in Milwaukee, Wisconsin says that “transferring [to a Jewish school] brought me closer to Yiddishkeit, Hashem, and other Jews. It brought me a sense of community and belonging, and my life has truly transformed, and has become to
enriched with Torah and Mitzvos.”
Our Heritage is dedicated in loving memory of its founding sponsor, Reb Shneur Zalman Hirsch ע”ה.