Tzvi Haddad*, a 15-year-old boy, will never forget the day he first entered yeshivah ketanah. To him, it was a life-changing event, brought about by one young boy’s sincere desire to learn about his faith.
As a young boy, Tzvi was enrolled in one of the secular state schools located between Tamra and Shfaram, two Arab villages near his hometown in the north of Israel. But he was always drawn to Yiddishkeit, and repeatedly begged his parents to transfer him to a Torah-oriented school, to learn more about Torah and Jewish tradition.
At first, his parents ignored his pleas. After a while, realizing that his request was genuine, they were determined to help their son in his spiritual quest. They set about looking for a suitable school that would accept him regardless of his lack of a religious background. After several weeks of searching, the Haddads learned about Chinuch Atzmai’s Ohr Chadash school, which is located in Rechasim.
Tzvi and his parents were thrilled when the school welcomed him into its ranks with open arms. However, the vast distance between their hometown and the school presented a serious obstacle to their plans. There was simply no way Tzvi’s parents could undertake to make the ten-kilometer drive back and forth to school on a daily basis. Hiring a private driver to bring him to school in the morning and back home in the evening wasn’t even a possibility – there was no way Tzvi’s parents could assume so great a financial burden on their meager budget.
They tried appealing to state officials for assistance with the expense, but the reply was quick and succinct: “Why is he different than all the other children in your neighborhood? Let him learn at the local school.”
Tzvi was devastated. His yearning for Torah was stronger than ever, and with salvation so close, he couldn’t bear to think of giving up and remaining at the state school, which was devoid of all things spiritual.
“I became dejected,” Mrs. Haddad recalls. “There was no option; no bus travels in the mornings from our settlement to Rechasim, and we simply couldn't afford to send him with a private driver. All of our children felt Tzvi’s pain, and we were so sad. I felt completely helpless. Close to desperation, I called the principal once more and with tears in my eyes, described the situation and begged him to come up with an alternative plan.”
The principal understood that Tzvi was serious about his desires and potentially a serious candidate for long-term Torah studies. He contacted Chinuch Atzmai’s Transportation Fund. The Haddads were ecstatic when the Transportation Fund immediately provided a solution: The bus that picked up children from nearby settlements would pass through his village on its way to Rechasim, at no additional cost to the Haddads.
Four years later, the circle has been completed. Tzvi is enrolled in a prestigious yeshivah gedolah and has earned a reputation as an outstanding bachur.
During this past bein hazmanim, Tzvi' paid a visit to his former school, looking every bit the yeshivah bachur that he is. Rabbi Chagai Rabinsky, menahel of Ohr Chadash, was overwhelmed upon seeing how far Tzvi has come. In the course of the visit, they sat and learned b’chavrusah about a topic that Tzvi had not learned in yeshivah.
“I learned it between Mussaf and Minchah of Yom Kippur,” Tzvi explained with with simplicity.
Tzvi’s parents have shown nothing but support to Tzvi ever since he embarked on this path.
The One and Only Student at "Granot Hagalil"
Chagai Deren* is a 13-year old boy from the Granot Hagalil moshav. Four years ago, his parents began to show an interest in Yiddishkeit and began to look into sending him to a more Torah-oriented school. Beforehand, Chagai had been a student at one of the secular state schools in his neighborhood. During the course of a meeting with Chagai’s parents, it became clear to Rabbi Yitzchak Shteinman, principal of the Netivot Moshe kiruv school in Nahariya, that the Derens were ready to make a radical change in their lives by fully committing to Torah and mitzvos. He realized that Chagai’s current school simply was no longer an option.
To transfer him to Netivot Moshe was easier said than done, however. The Derens were struggling financially to begin with, and certainly could not afford yeshivah tuition, nor even the transportation fee. They could scarcely hope for assistance from their community; aside from the fact that the Granot Hagalil moshav is notoriously anti-Torah, its residents are famously hostile towards anyone whose viewpoint differs from theirs.
Rabbi Shteinman immediately realized that Chagai’s only hope was to involve Chinuah Atzmai’s Transportation Fund, which came through admirably once again.
“Once Chinuch Atzmai agreed to fund Chagai’s busing to and from yeshivah through the Transportation Fund, the Derens agreed to transfer him to our school,” explains Rabbi Shteinman. “Needless to say, had it not been for the Fund’s intervention, this precious talmid would not have come to learn in a Torah institution. This is a clear example of a child who would have remained in the secular education system, which in turn would have had negative repercussions on all future generations.”
Instead, thanks to the Transportation Fund, Chagai spent the next four years learning at Netivot Moshe, during which he excelled in his Torah studies and established an excellent reputation. He was then accepted at the renowned Ateret Yitzchak Yeshivah, one of the leading yeshivos in Tiberias.
Rabbi Shteinman’s face lights up as he speaks of Chagai, who is but one of the yeshivah’s many success stories.
“We encounter a multitude of obstacles when dealing with the spiritual growth of our pupils, but even so, we are overcome with pride. Each time we find a ‘Chagai’ and help him to find his way, it is as if we are enabling a baby bird to take flight. Without the assistance of the yeshivah and of course, the Transportation Fund, students like Chagai would remain eternally grounded, resulting in the loss of countless future generations. Each ‘Chagai’ provides us with a feeling of deep contentment, as well as renewed strength to continue in our holy endeavors for the sake of the pure chinuch of our children.”
This is but one of many stories of children Chinuch Atzami has helped through its Transportation Fund. By helping students such as Chagai attend yeshivah, the Transportation Fund is responsible for those same students bringing the light of Torah into their homes, thereby revolutionizing and revitalizing their homes, families, and future generations.
Just one Child
Thirteen-year-old Yair sits at home in the Machmanim Township. Up until a month ago, Yair and five of his friends traveled daily to the Amichai school in Carmiel, fifteen minutes away. However, his friends all recently moved to Carmiel, and now live closer to the school. The Ministry of Education did not sanction busing to Carmiel for one child, and thus the transportation to Amichai has been curtailed.
Yair’s parents refuse to send him to a school that is less committed to Jewish tradition. They registered Yair at the talmud Torah in Carmiel when they began observing Torah and mitzvos, and his progress warms their hearts. They relish in his wonderful middos, his tefillos, and his continued Torah study. Therefore, he sits home, day after day, when all he wants to do is bring nachas to his parents and the Ribbono shel Olam.
Public transportation from their small village is scanty at best. In the beginning, Yair’s parents asked neighbors who traveled regularly to Carmiel for rides. When that didn’t work out, they dug deep into their pockets to pay for a private taxi. But neither solution is feasible on a long-term basis.
Having no other choice, Yair remains at home for a number of weeks, until one day there is a knock at the door… The Council Education Officer has come to pay him a visit. Apparently, someone has reported that Yair is not attending school because his parents insist on a religious education. He expresses his surprise at the fact that they are disregarding the compulsory education law and informs Yair’s parents that his staying home is not an option; he tells them that the local council would finance transportation to the local state school, or even to the somewhat more religious state school in nearby Kiryat Ata.
Yair’s father, however, adamantly rejects the Education Officer’s suggestion, vehemently explaining his attitude: “It is contrary to our religious convictions.” The officer leaves, but not without throwing a foreboding warning over his shoulder: “I’ll be back!”
And return he does – repeatedly. First with a letter from the Council’s legal advisor, then from the Ministry of Education. Yair’s father, who has been fighting bravely from the outset, is beginning to feel defeated. How much can one struggle? “Ribbono shel Olam, please save our precious child, and don’t allow him to fall into the hands of those who wish to harm him,” he prays continuously as tears fall from his eyes.
And those prayers do not go unheeded. Amichai’s principal, Rabbi Yonasan Tessler, is so moved by the family’s commitment to Yair’s education that he offers to come in the morning and personally bring Yair to school. This, however, is only a temporary solution. At the same time, h appeals to Chinuch Atzmai’s Transportation Fund.
The Fund’s administration is deeply moved by Yair’s story. However, being that this request comes in the middle of the school year, they cannot easily change existing bus routes to include Yair’s stop. After much deliberation, they decid to allocate special funding for a taxi that will bring Yair to and from school each day until they are able to move things around and include Machmanim in the regular bus route.
Once again, the Transportation Fund shows us how the chinuch of just one child equals an entire world – and must be treated as such.
Which Takes Precedence – Torah or Money?
The protagonist of this story is an elementary school-aged boy from central Israel who completely revolutionized both his life and that of his entire family.
It all began in the summer of 5770, shortly before the beginning of the new school year. Sharona Betan*, mother of five-year-old Alon Betan*, was desperately seeking a suitable school for her young son. She had recently become shomer Torah umitzvos and was intent on sending her son to a talmud Torah; specifically, the Meshivat Nefesh school in Ganei Tikva. She had Rabbanim and chinuch experts in her corner. Her husband, however, was lagging behind in his commitment to Torah, and he stood firm in his objection to Sharona’s plans. His main argument was the vast physical distance between the school and the Betans’ home, which was significant. And there was no extra money available to pay for private transportation.
Sharona’s genuine desire to place her child in a proper Torah environment was not daunted by her husband’s refusal; however, she was unsure how to go about accomplishing her goal despite his desire to the contrary. In distress, she turned to Rabbi Yechiel Mondrowitz, the principal of Meshivat Nefesh, in the hopes of finding some sort of solution to her predicament.
Rabbi Mondrowitz wanted to help, but the situation was even more dire than Sharona had anticipated. It turned out that the detour the school bus would have to make in order to pick up Alon from his home would entail a great deal of extra time and expense. It simply didn’t seem feasible.
It seemed like there was nothing to be done. Sharona was at a loss, the Rabbanim she’d consulted with wondered helplessly whether their efforts to send a young, Jewish neshamah to a talmud Torah would now fail simply due to a lack of funds.
In one last effort, a fervent request was put forward by Rabbi Mondrowitz to Chinuch Atzmai’s Transportation Fund for assistance in figuring out a way to transport Alon from his home in Ramat Pinkas, on the outskirts of Or Yehuda, to the school in Ganei Tikva. Detailing the family’s difficult financial situation, Rabbi Mondrowitz was clear: Without assistance, there was simply no way for Alon to attend. “What takes precedence?” Rabbi Mondrowitz beseeched the committee. “Dinei nefashos, which pertain to the fragile Yiddishkeit of this family, or dinei mamonos, the expense involved? Isn’t it clear we must do everything in our power to build their Yiddishkeit and save their neshamos?”
Rabbi Mondrowitz made his point: Regardless of the great expense in transporting this single child from a remote location to the school, the Transportation Fund was ready to undertake the cost of financing daily transportation. Both Sharona and Alon were overjoyed. As for Alon’s father, with his main argument taken care of, he was left with no choice but to grudgingly acquiesce. On the first day of school, it was a tearful Sharona who accompanied her son with a silent prayer: “Thanks to the Transportation Fund, my son is attending a talmud Torah. May Hashem find me worthy of raising pious children…”
The years went by, and Alon’s younger brother and sisters attended religious schools as well. Their father’s stubbornness dissipated as he came to appreciate the wonderful education his children were receiving. Today he puts on Tefillin, devotes the Shabbos day to Torah study, and is an active partner in the spiritual progress of his children.
As for Sharona, this righteous woman recently approached us with a new request: “Will you lend us a helping hand with registering our children in yeshivas just as you helped us with the talmud Torah?”