Despite all odds, 360 public school children are now enrolled in Jewish Day Schools around the country through the Menachem Education Foundation’s “Our Heritage” program! Initiated during the Covid-19 school shutdown, Our Heritage offers up to $25,000 in matching grants to Chabad Jewish Day schools who bring in at least 10 new Jewish students from public schools. With the goal being to spur a national movement of day school enrollment, the program is now in phase two.
The first year succeeded all expectations, and Our Heritage partnered with 13 Chabad day schools around the country to enroll a total of 183 new Jewish public school students in year one alone. Families shared that they were delighted with the positive, personalized experience that their first-time Jewish day school students received, which led MEF to set higher goals to reach even more students for its second year. With 16 schools on board for year two, the program has enrolled 360 new students to date.
With most public schools open for in-person learning, the fact that enrollment in Jewish Day Schools through this program continues to grow in year two testifies to the important role that this program plays beyond Covid-19. MEF’s fundraising campaign, which took place on Nov. 16-17 – י”ב-י”ג כסלו, will be allocating funds in large part toward this pressing need.
Rabbi Yossi Mintz, Director of Academy of the Arts in Redondo Beach, CA shares how the Our Heritage program has highlighted the value of Jewish education to his community. “Families were inspired to join our school because people they didn’t even know showed how important it was for their children to get a Jewish education.”
Our Heritage is dedicated in loving memory to R’ Shneur Hirsch OBM, recognizing the key role he played in its founding. It was through his direct encouragement and generous support that the successful program was born.
For the rest of this school year, Our Heritage will continue to work with participating schools to encourage mid-year enrollments and support the needs of new students. Our Heritage is also expanding globally, and partnering with at least two international schools who begin their school year in January to give the gift of a Jewish education to students in new demographics.
The impact of Our Heritage doesn’t stop with the students enrolled. Rabbi Mintz explains the ripple effect of Yiddishkeit that Our Heritage has brought to their families too.
“These children transformed their families, who have now transformed their homes to Yiddishe homes, with many fathers putting on Tefillin every day. Some of the families brought in other families. Thank you Rabbi Shneur,” he concludes emphatically, directing his hakaras hatov to Rabbi Zalman Shneur, MEF’s Executive Director, who founded and spearheaded the Our Heritage program. “I’m so proud to be a partner and recipient.”