[COMMUNICATED] Just about everyone has heard of Chinuch Atzma’I, the network of Torah schools founded by HaRav Aharon Kotler zt”l. Lately, however, there has been quite a buzz about Keren Hasa’ot, a division of Chinuch Atzmai devoted exclusively to student transportation.
Keren Hasa’ot: A Lifeline for Kiruv
What’s it all about?
In the past, all students were entitled to government-funded transportation. About ten years ago, the Israeli Reform movement aggressively lobbied Israel’s High Court to effect a drastic cut to the Chinuch Atzmai transportation budget. Without warning, Chinuch Atzmai was confronted with a multi-million dollar deficit in its transportation budget.
“For charedi communities, it was a challenge, but not an insurmountable one,” explains Harav Mordechai Karelitz of Chinuch Atzmai. As he points out, most charedi children live in frum areas and are in close proximity to a qualified cheder. “The real crisis was for the many children from non-frum families living in far-flung or remote settlements,” Rabbi Karelitz emphasizes. “There are more than 30,000 such children whose parents are agreeable to enroll in a charedi school – but not if they will have to pay for the very expensive costs of a long bus ride.”
The Gedolei Yisroel recognized the malice of the government’s decree, an obvious attempt to undermine the effectiveness of Chinuch Atzmai’s kiruv education. In response, the gedolim held an emergency meeting and launched an ambitious new initiative known as “Keren Hasa’ot – The Transportation Fund.”
“Over the past ten years, Keren Hasa’ot has grown to provide funding for more than one thousand regular bus routes,” says Rabbi Karelitz, who is involved in the fund’s day-to-day operations. “Nearly 30,000 children from 215 locations are transported to more than 100 Torah schools across the country.”
The exponential growth of the budget and the accumulated deficit from previous years has jeopardized the existing bus company contracts, and along with it the fate of thousands of Jewish children. The gedolim in Eretz Yisroel and the United States issued an urgent Krias Kodesh, declaring it a chov kodosh for every individual to “adopt” at least one child. Thousands of yidden in Eretz Yisroel have already responded to the call, committing to cover the transportation costs of one child at $30 a month, or $360 for a year.
A major movement has been launched in the United States to raise awareness and funds: every member of the American Torah community is urged to heed the call and adopt a child.
Look out for upcoming Keren Hasa’ot events in Lakewood and elsewhere. Join the movement! 844-44kiruv (844-445-4788)
I think we understand this problem better than most…
I think we need a bussing initiative for Lakewood. maybe we can raise money for bussing for Lakewood students.
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