By COLlive reporter
“My whole life has changed,” shares Gabriela, a young student who switched from public school to Mazel Day School in Brooklyn, NY last year. “I keep Shabbat, I go to synagogue. I am so happy to feel a part of my people.”
Hundreds of Jewish students expressed similar sentiments after the “Our Heritage” program of the Menachem Education Foundation (MEF) has enabled them to transfer from public schools to Chabad day schools.
Founded during the Covid pandemic’s school shutdown, the program provides $25,000 matching grants to Chabad day schools to enroll new Jewish public school students.
Dedicated in loving memory of its founding sponsor, Rabbi Shneur Zalman Hirsch OBM, the success of Our Heritage has far exceeded the pandemic. 385 Jewish public school students have been able to enroll across 19 Chabad day schools in North America, even after public schools reopened for in-person learning.
Shelby Watkins, a student who transferred from public school to Bader Hillel High in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, shares, “Transferring (to Chabad 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 so enriched with Torah and Mitzvos.”
The positive outcome and feedback has prompted Our Heritage to expand internationally in honor of the 5783 Hakhel year. The program is partnering with Chabad day schools around the world, by providing $25,000 matching grants to give the gift of a full-time Torah education to Jewish public school students.
The Menachem Education Foundation thanks the Our Heritage donors and committee members for coming together to create an international movement encouraging Jewish education, uniting families around the world with their Jewish heritage.
Rabbi Yossi Mintz, Director of Academy of the Arts, a Chabad day school in Redondo Beach, California, describes the ripple effect of a Torah education on the families since the start of Our Heritage.
“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.”
Noach Weinstein, Partner of Our Heritage, says “To be able to impact children currently in public school, who don’t feel the warmth and truth of Judaism, then being able to go to a Jewish school, is very important, and I feel the impact every day.”
To find out more about Our Heritage and to see if your school is eligible to apply visit mymef.org/ourheritage