The Our Heritage program gathered forty supporters and friends at Wolf & Lamb in Manhattan on Wednesday evening, to launch the fourth year of the program, with a lavish dinner accompanied by live Jazz and heartfelt messages of the impact of Our Heritage.
Founded in August 2020, by the Menachem Education Foundation, Our Heritage provides grants to Chabad day schools, so that they could subsidize tuition for Jewish students coming from public schools, making it affordable to receive a Torah-true Chinuch. Since its inception, Our Heritage has awarded $900,000 in matching grants to 28 Chabad day schools across the United States, Canada, and even France, which has enabled 459 students to attend Chabad day schools and receive the gift of a Torah education.
Mr. Alex Swieca, Vice Chairman of Our Heritage, opened the dinner’s program, addressing guests on the importance of Jewish education, and his involvement in enabling Jewish students to attend Chabad day schools.
Chabad Day School Leader, Rabbi Yossi Blesofsky, of Chabad STREAM School in Bayside, NY, shared his experience as a Chabad Day School Leader, who faced the challenges of increasing enrollment at his school, since so many families couldn’t afford the day school tuition, and didn’t see the importance of a Jewish education. He explained how the Our Heritage program has helped his school enroll more children, by making cost a non issue for parents, and has shown families what a wonderful education Chabad day school provides.
Mrs. Rachel Sherman, whose children are currently attending Chabad STREAM School through Our Heritage, shared how her children were ridiculed for being Jewish when they attended public school, and the excessive focus on materialism and lack of values that they experienced there. She described how much love and respect they receive from the Chabad STREAM School, and how her children’s Torah education has encouraged the whole family to become more observant, and build their strong sense of Jewish pride.
To illustrate the powerful influence that a Jewish education has on a child’s future, Adam Diamond, a Bochur in Oholei Torah Zal, spoke about the Jewish education he received from Shluchim in Temecula, CA which inspired him to go from public school to Yeshiva, and eventually to Oholei Torah. His sister now attends Bader Hillel High, a Chabad Day School in Milwaukee, WI, through Our Heritage. Their whole family is connected with Chabad, and has seen the positive effects of a Jewish education.
Diamond shared, “Receiving a Jewish education has instilled within myself and my siblings Jewish values and a Jewish pride that will stay with us forever! I know I’m just one of hundreds of lives who have been impacted by the Our Heritage program.”
Younger children, who are currently at Chabad day schools, bravely addressed the crowd of adults on their experience. Asher Mullokandov, who transferred from public school to Chabad day school when he was in fifth grade, with the help of Our Heritage, shared, “What I appreciate about Jewish day school is that everyone is nicer, I’m surrounded by my people, have lots fo Jewish friends, and in a more pleasant environment. I’m learning about my culture, my religion, learning new stories and so much more. It has changed me, my life and my future.”
The moving presentations prompted Our Heritage Partner, Mr. Joe Aronow, to share his strong vision for the future of Jewish education over a L’Chaim, and his wife, Mrs. Debbie Aronow got up to share how she was involved in rebuilding Crown Heights after the riots, which she called, “a pogrom.”
Rabbi Chaim Kaminker, Associate Director of Our Heritage presented the goals for Our Heritage Year Four: to raise $500,000 to make Chabad day school education an option for another 250 Jewish public school students. Guests pledged to generously contribute to jumpstart this next phase of the program.
After the dinner’s powerful launch of Our Heritage Year Four, Rabbi Zalman Shneur, Executive Director of the Menachem Education shares, “I give the biggest thanks to Mr. Alex Swieca for assuming leadership in this program, and bringing together those who can generously contribute to the Torah education of so many Jewish children.”
Our Heritage thanks Mrs. Esther Matuf for coordinating the evening.
To find out more about Our Heritage, and enable Jewish public school students to receive a Chabad day school education, visit mymef.org/ourheritage.
Our Heritage is dedicated in loving memory of its founding sponsor, R’ Shneur Zalman Hirsch, A”H