Giving Israeli students in need a reason to smile


More than 1,000 Israeli children from disadvantaged backgrounds have returned to school after the Succot break ready to learn and play with confidence, thanks to material aid provided by World ORT.

Thanks to the support of the estate of ORT America supporters Thelma and Elmer Drier, z”?l, and contributions from major Israeli stores H&O and Kravitz, World ORT distributed e-cards worth a total of NIS 700,000 ($192,500) to 1,104 students-in-need at the 33 campuses the organisation supports through its Kadima Mada programme.

The schools discretely distributed the cards to those who needed them just before the holiday so that the recipients could buy sports clothes and shoes, stationery and other school necessities in time for the new term.

It was another reason to smile during zman simchateinu, the time of our rejoicing as the Succot festival is also known. “We know that if basic needs are not met, when a child does not have appropriate clothes to wear or equipment, we can’t expect them to learn to the best of their ability. Add to that the sense of inferiority and deprivation that a lack of such basic things can create and you can get students who are disruptive and defensive. By fulfilling these needs we give the children a sense of equality and an encouragement to apply themselves to learning and growing,”? said the Director of the Kfar Chasidim Religious Youth Village, Benny Hadad.

Most of Mr Hadad’s students have experienced crisis or loss and many others board at the school because of poverty and family problems. One of them, “Matan”?, lives at the Youth Village because his mother, who devotes what little money she has to helping his brother in prison, does not want him at home.

“The village has become his main home,”? Mr Hadad said. “And our ability to provide him with clothing enhances this feeling. World ORT’s help contributes to making his situation better.”?

Rajah Gadban, the Principal of Horfesh High School, which serves a Druze community near the border with Lebanon, said 32 of his students benefited from the e-cards.

“This contribution is an expression of social strength and generosity and the human will to support one’s neighbour, all of which strengthens the hope we have in our hearts to contribute to the well-being of individuals in a materialistic society,”? Mr Gadban said.

“These generous gestures warm our children’s hearts, bring back a smile to their faces and a return the sparkle to their eyes; they inspire our children to choose to do good.”?

Receiving the e-card was literally a dream come true for one of Mr Gadban’s students.

“I was dreaming of buying something but I didn’t know how I would manage to do it. As soon as I received this help I went with my father and bought the shoes that I love,”? the Year 11 student said.

The material assistance provided to students-in-need is not confined to clothes and stationery, however.

For example, during this week’s visit to the Rogozin Educational Campus at Kiryat Atta, the ORT America mission to Israel met some scholarship recipients. Among them was a shy Ethiopian boy who approached them during their tour of the college, at which post-high school students can gain a two-year engineering diploma in electronics or computer science. When in 11th grade his father committed suicide leaving his mother to fend for herself and the family.

“Normally we don’t ask which children are getting the social assistance which we contribute towards but he and another boy came up to us and told us that without those scholarships they would not have been able to attend the college and would have gone into the army to do low grade jobs,”? said ORT America President Shelley Fagel.

It was just one memorable moment in a five-day mission which gave ORT America supporters a close, personal experience of World ORT’s work in Israel “οΎ“ from supporting educational facilities for hospitalised children through the SASA Setton Kav Or programme to installing interactive Smart Classroom in schools serving disadvantaged communities.

“It’s a very simple equation: we’re doing work here every day which is changing the lives of children in need. And it’s remarkable,”? said ORT America National Executive Director Alan Klugman.

Avi Ganon, World ORT Representative in Israel, said that providing material assistance to students in need had far reaching effects.

“These kinds of initiatives help students to achieve their goals, which is essential to creating a better future for the children of Israel and to ensuring the future strength of the State of Israel,”? Mr Ganon said.