July 13, 2010
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, under the leadership of Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, announced a donation of $1.1 million to the Jewish Agency for Israel to support the Heftziba network of Jewish day schools in the former Soviet Union. This comes in addition to the $400,000 in support to the school network given earlier this year by the Fellowship.
The Heftziba network consists of 43 schools with 9,000 students in grades 1 through 12 enrolled for the upcoming school year and is operated by Israel’s Ministry of Education in partnership with the Jewish Agency. The schools span the former Soviet Union, with 15 schools in Russia, 18 in Ukraine and Moldova, 5 in Belarus and Baltic states and 5 in Central Asia.
The gift will help sustain the schools, by covering key costs, including hot meals, clothing and medicine for children from disadvantaged families as well as school busing -- a critical factor in enrollment due to the great distance some students need to travel.
The Jewish Agency partners with the Government of Israel’s Ministry of Education which operates the Heftziba network, sending 50 teachers from Israel to the schools and contributing $2.8 million annually; individual schools within the network are run by Or Avner, ORT and Shema Yisrael.