The Early Childhood Initiative of the Machne Israel Development Fund says it has already invested 1 million dollar in the infrastructure of 22 Jewish communities around the country during this fiscal year.
100 new Chabad Early Childhood programs are expected open in the next 4 years which translates into thousands of young families that will be introduced to observant Judaism as a result of the initiative.
Batya Lisker, administrator of the project and Executive Assistant to Machne Israel Chairman Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, recently returned from a whirlwind tour in Burbank, Yorba Linda and Los Angeles, California; Vancouver, Washington; and Lone Tree and Vail, Colorado.
She said she experienced and observed first-hand the demand for Chabad education at these new Early Childhood programs.
At a pre-Thanksgiving lunch at Chabad of Burbank’s Preschool, she heard from a couple (he’s an attorney and she’s a movie publicist) why they made the decision to switch their children from Bright Horizons, a leading provider for childcare education, to Chabad.
“The beauty of Judaism that the children brought home from school coupled with a level of professionalism and education that rivaled Bright Horizons sold them,” Lisker says.
Another mother explained that her son had been assessed for special services and treated as such at another school, but after coming to Chabad he began thriving, benefiting from an experienced teacher who believes in him and assists him to not only overcome his issues but to completely disregard them.
At the Garden Preschool of Lone Tree, Colorado, a non-Jewish staff member thanked the directors for bringing the Chanukah lights in her life, brightening her days with all the inspiration she gets from them all year round.
In Vail, Colorado, a mother expressed her grateful appreciation for the Early Childhood grant and said that continued support would enable them to expand to accommodate the growing need in her community. There is no other Jewish preschool in the area.
“The preschool has already had a tremendous effect on our Chabad House and is shaping our community,” said Rabbi Shmuly Kornfeld, director of Chabad of Burbank.
“People who were just names on a list are now involved and inspired members of our extended Chabad House family attending all of our programs and showing up on Shabbos and Yom Tov.”
The Fund’s Early Childhood Initiative grants were underwritten by British-American philanthropists David Slager and his wife Lara.
“The grant enabling the opening of a new early childhood center will have a major impact on our Chabad Center. It will create an avenue for many young families to connect with their Heritage,” said Rabbi Dovid Eliezrie, Director of Chabad of Orange County in Yorba Linda, CA.
Machne Israel said it is not merely funding the new Early Childhood programs, but also nurturing the centers on an ongoing basis as well.
Lisker’s onsite school visits provided an opportunity to prepare the workshops of the next Machne Israel Development Fund Initiative director’s seminar on March 1-2, 2011, the second of a series of professional development opportunities that began last summer prior to the inauguration of the new centers.
“Thanks to the Machne Israel Development Fund and the Slagers we have been able to open a high quality Jewish early childhood center, which has been received with great community response.” said Shlucha Hindy Mintz of The Garden Preschool and Early Learning Center in Lone Tree, CO.