Oorah Scholarships Provide Lifeline to Help Students Move from Public Schools to Jewish Schools

Girls Camp for Blog Post

 

The financial meltdown of 2008 and the recession that followed was challenging for many parents who had been considering moving their children from public schools to Jewish day schools.  The financial uncertainty made families afraid to take on an added tuition burden.

Bob and Shelley Greenberg* were among those forced to confront those issues for their three children, who had been happily attending Jewish schools before the financial crisis. Unfortunately, Bob’s employer closed as a result of the recession, and the family had to relocate to a small city in the Midwest, where Bob found a new job.

“There was a real issue with the quality of the schools,” says Bob.  “We ended up sending our kids to public school.

The younger two were okay with public school, according to their father, although they didn’t love it.  But when Racheli, the oldest was ready for high school, the Greenbergs had to make some hard choices.

That was the line in the sand for us,” Bob recalls.  “We really couldn’t send her to a public school for high school.”  Bob and Shelly sent Racheli back East to live with family members, but it didn’t solve their problem.  “We just felt that a girl needs to be with her parents, so it was not a long term option, but Jewish education was that important to us.”

The couple engaged in extensive belt-tightening and prayed devoutly to find a solution for their family. And, as Racheli entered her sophomore year at a Jewish high school, they returned to the east coast, rejoined their oldest daughter and enrolled the two younger children in Jewish day schools.

“My kids are thrilled,” says Bob.  “They are going to schools with both great Jewish programs and great secular programs.  They have grown so much in their connection to Judaism.”

A key factor in finding this happy solution was the financial assistance provided by Oorah.

Oorah was our spiritual lifeline,” says Bob. “Without the scholarships Oorah provided, this would be a moot discussion. My kids would have had to attend public schools.”

Oorah provides Jewish day school scholarships and Jewish high school scholarships for families that want to move their children from public schools to Jewish day schools. Bob acknowledges that some people feel uncomfortable applying for financial assistance, but he says Oorah handled the application process with great sensitivity.

Racheli has graduated high school and has moved on to the next level —  a woman’s seminary in Israel.  “We are thrilled every day with the way she is growing in Yiddishkeit,” says her proud father.

Bob advises other Jewish parents in his position – wanting to move their kids out of public schools and into Jewish day schools and Jewish high schools but worry about the financial cost —  to contact Oorah and apply for tuition assistance.

“Oorah enabled my kids to go to summer camp in a proper environment. It enabled them to go to yeshiva.  I can’t imagine a better way for people in challenging situations than to turn to Oorah. I have a tremendous amount of gratitude,” Bob concludes.

*The names of the family members and certain details have been changed to protect the family’s privacy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning Hebrew: Another Bonus for Jewish Day School Students

If your child had the opportunity to go to Jewish Day School, would you send him or her?

Think about it.

There are so many reasons to send Jewish children to a Jewish school. It increases their Jewish identity. It surrounds them with Jewish friends who share your family’s values. Your child will never have to make up work missed because she took off to celebrate a Jewish holiday.

One advantage you may not have thought of:  as a student at a Jewish day school or high school, your child will learn Hebrew as a living language. Unlike a public school, where French or Spanish is taught a couple hours a week, many day schools are integrating spoken Hebrew into the curriculum, even in pre-K classes. So your child will have the opportunity to become bi-lingual with all the benefits that it entails.

A recent study by the AVI CHAI Foundation, an organization that supports innovative Jewish education in the U.S. and Israel, cited many examples of creative ways that Hebrew is being integrated into the Jewish day school curriculum both as a modern language and through the study of Jewish texts.

While Hebrew has a special meaning in Jewish schools,  learning a second language has other benefits. Research shows learning a second language creates patterns in the developing brain that help students succeed in other areas of study, including improved reading skills, social studies, and math.

A report published by the National Education Association attributed the benefits of learning a second language to improved self-image, self-esteem, and satisfaction. Students able to speak a second language have better listening skills, sharper memories, are more creative, are better at solving complex problems, and exhibit greater cognitive flexibility, according to the report.

Results from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) show that students who had studied another language for four or more years did better on both the verbal and math portions of the test.

Wouldn’t this be a wonderful opportunity for your child?  They can attend a school immersed in Jewish values and receive an exceptional education. Parents often say the high cost of tuition keeps them from sending their children to Jewish day schools or high school. But what if the cost factor was eliminated?

Did you know that financial aid is available from Oorah?

Oorah sponsors camps and afterschool programs to strengthen children’s and teens’ Jewish identity.  Oorah welcomes the opportunity to help these students take the next step — moving to a Jewish day school or Jewish high school — by providing scholarships.

To apply for a Jewish day school scholarship or a Jewish high school scholarship,  simply fill out the preliminary scholarship application. Someone from Oorah will be in touch with you to help you take the next step.

Tuition Scholarship Preliminary Application

 

 

 

An Oorah Tuition Story

Where your desk is located in the office can make a difference -especially in Oorah where there’s so many different departments. I’m lucky enough to sit way back, next to Mrs. Raizel Hoffman. You see, Mrs. Hoffman is in the tuition assistance department. She takes care of the incoming tuition assistance applications and speaks with families and schools to negotiate the assistance. This time of year, the tuition department is super-busy. The phone rings constantly as dozens of parents call each day. There are lots of things that have to be coordinated with the start of a new school year.

It’s nice that I get to hear what a difference Oorah’s tuition assistance makes in the lives of families who would otherwise sent their kids to public school. They’re always so appreciative of the help. But what happened 3 days ago shows how much Oorah cares.

Mrs. Hoffman was speaking to a mother, let’s call her Mrs. A. Mrs. A really wanted to switch her son, Jason*, into another Jewish school, but unfortunately couldn’t afford the high tuition expense and he ended up in public school. The mother spoke to Oorah, who is assisting with the tuition. But Mrs. A, with an unwell child at home, couldn’t afford the remaining balance. She was really upset that she is forced to send Jason to public school.

Mrs. Hoffman told me what happened next. “I never contact the schools. They partner with us but I never ask them for favors! But this time I did.” She emailed the school that the child applied to, and asked them to reduce the balance even more.

She finally heard back from the school that they lowered the tuition to a manageable number and called the mother excited.

“That was you”, was Mrs. A’s shocked response.

“It was as if I got my own child into school”, said an emotional Mrs. Hoffman.

Jason won’t have to go to public school this year, all because someone when beyond the call of duty.

From a Thankful Parent

I would like to humbly thank those making the decision to have granted {our daughter} a scholarship the last three years. My husband and I have watched our daughter blossom into a fine young Jewish woman with the morals and priorities any parent could ask for. She is a sponge to Torah learning and loves her life as a …. student. She participates in religious and secular and extra-curricular activities and we couldn’t be more proud. The friends she has chose are of the same cloth and she is now immersed in a world of Torah life. We are very grateful to Oorah because if not for Oorah’s financial help we would not be close to being able to afford the very costly tuition of Jewish high school. {She} is a child/young lady who is growing in her Yiddishkeit with every fiber of her body and soul………… We each continue to learn and it has all been so wonderful for our family as a whole.

The Giving Ripple-Effect

chanuka

Below is a recent email we received with an incredible story and powerful lesson! When we read it – we were blown away!

I wanted to relay to you a very positive experience that I had after receiving your Hanukkah gift box. because my children are in their twenties and we have plenty of Hanukkah ft material I really had no use for the very generous gift that you sent me. I therefore took pictures of everything that was in the box and posted it on Craigslist for free to anyone who wanted it. within about 30 minutes I received a text message from someone asking if it was available..I told them to meet me at the furniture store that I work at the next day. I took note of the fact that this person lives in the same area that I work in, which is a very non – Jewish area. what a lovely lovely young lady showed up to claim the box, she told me the following story: she is the step mother of a six year old boy. she is Jewish, as is the boy’s natural mother. so the six year old boy is Jewish by law. Herr husband the boy’s natural father is not. there is very little Jewish education in the home because the father is not Jewish and the mother is not religious. She is more of a ” mother earth” type of person. the little boy is very eager to learn more about his heritage. believe it or not, what excited the stepmother the most was the Oorah [Chanuka] guide that was included, which explained the prayers :what they meant and why they were being said. I invited the stepmother and the little boy to a community Hanukkah dinner this Friday night so the little boy can experience for the first time the warmth of a Shabbos dinner along with the explanations about Hanukkah. this would not have been possible without your sending me the Hanukkah gift box. you are sending me the gift box, and it ending up in the possession of a little boy who desires to learn about his Judaism is clearly no accident. thanks to Hashem for connecting me with you. have a wonderful holiday

Giving Back

A parent whom Oorah has assisted in the past with tuition while they were struggling financially contacted Oorah and said that now BH business picked up and they don’t feel right taking the scholarship money they would like us to give it to other children who need it. She wanted to know exactly how much we were paying so she can send it to the school. They are really grateful!
Besides Oorah helping them financially Oorah also gave them the realization that Yeshiva is important and that it is worth the money!