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Students in CIS & Baltic States

The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews’ donation to Jewish schools in the CIS and Baltic States has given thousands of kids a reason to smile.

NEW YORK, NY — July 26, 2010 — ORT expressed its gratitude to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) for its additional support of one million dollars to ORT’s Jewish schools (along with Or Avner and Shema Yisrael networks) in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Baltic States.

 “The IFCJ’s donation is a miracle for ORT’s 18 schools in the CIS, which have been struggling to maintain their Jewish identity since 2008 when the financial crisis crippled the Heftsiba Program which provided Jewish Studies, hot lunches, school buses and salaries for teachers,” ORT America’s National Executive Director Alan E. Klugman stated.

This brings IFCJ’s support for the Heftsiba program to $3 million over two years, and comes in the wake of JAFI’s adoption of a strategic plan that calls for supporting programs which enable young Jews to connect with their people, heritage and land, and empower them to build a thriving Jewish future and a strong Israel.

Despite emergency cash injections from the IFCJ and the Israeli Government over the past several months, ORT was recently compelled to take out loans to help the schools.

The gift will be used to pay for the social needs components of the Heftsiba program: hot lunches and school buses.  These are vital if Jewish children, many from at-risk households, who face long commutes and financial challenges at home are going to obtain a Jewish education.  The IFCJ’s contribution allows schools’ budgets to be freed up to pay for other neglected necessities such as more teachers, expanded lessons in Jewish history and tradition, the geography of Israel and Hebrew classes.

“The IFCJ has given us the chance to keep our ORT schools in the region stable. When parents are asked why bring kids to our school they often say because this is the place where their kids will be loved and cared for. So, thanks to the IFCJ and its supporters for preserving this loving, caring environment for Jewish children,” Mr. Klugman emphasized.

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