Helping orphans stay in school

Colel Chabad awards academic scholarships to 100 children

URIEL BLUM receives a scholarship at the Colel Chabad event on Monday. (photo credit: KOBI AMSALEM)
URIEL BLUM receives a scholarship at the Colel Chabad event on Monday.
(photo credit: KOBI AMSALEM)
Colel Chabad, the oldest continuously running charitable organization in Israel, awarded 100 orphans with an academic scholarship.
The scholarships, awarded on Monday evening, are part of an initiative of the Chesed Menachem Mendel program, which provides orphans customized support, be it financial or social, to help them through the difficulties of having lost a parent.
Held at the Psagot Winery in the Judean Hills and sponsored by the Falic Family Foundation, the participants, surrounded by family and friends in attendance, were individually presented with a certificate saluting their academic accomplishments and a check in recognition of excellence in the academic school year.
“These children deserve lots of praise for succeeding in the face of hardship,” said Yitzchak Marton, program director of Chesed Menachem Mendel. “School can be difficult – but having to deal with the challenges of the loss of a parent on top of that can bring even the best students down.”
The children in the program are provided with individualized help depending on their needs – from tutoring, big brother/big sister programs, music lessons, assistance and intervention with school administrators and teachers, to extracurricular activities, summer camps and therapies in order to help them succeed in school and socially.
“We are so proud of their determination to keep up with their studies and their extracurricular activities and it brings us great pride to see them here,” Marton said.
To date the program, in its 14th year, has helped thousands of orphans and their families. This year there are 1,000 school-aged children participating in the program.
The aim is to provide a holistic approach to the needs of both the orphans and widows ensuring they have everything they need from basic food supplies to help in dealing with depression and schoolwork.
“The focus is to provide educational support to make sure that the children get through high school,” Rabbi Menachem Traxler from Colel Chabad told The Jerusalem Post.
He explained that children are introduced to the program usually through social workers who recommend they join to prevent them from slipping in school.
“When a parent dies, we don’t get involved right away,” explained Traxler. “Usually a couple months later, reality hits and we get involved helping the children with school.”
Chava Tzofia Blum, mother of Uriel Betzalel, one of the children receiving a scholarship, expressed the difficulties and ongoing challenges in raising a child without a father.
She said that events like Colel Chabad’s scholarship ceremony give her and other parents in similar circumstances “the strength they need to carry on.”
“This organization invests in our children by providing tutors and support for their studies,” she said. “Without Colel Chabad, I honestly have no idea how I would be able to give my kids the support they need to succeed.”
She added that the ceremony, which she said must have come at “considerable cost,” is a “reflection of how much they [Colel Chabad] care and see these children almost as their own.”
Founded in 1788 under the direction of the founder of the Chabad movement, Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi, to ensure that there would be charitable support for the Jewish population in the Holy Land, the organization today coordinates and expansive array of educational, monetary and nutritional programs for Israel’s underprivileged.