Global campaign launched to support yeshivot and seminaries during corona

The 'If I Forget You, Jerusalem' campaign aims to support more than 40 Torah institutions within Israel and their students through the coronavirus crisis.

People pray ahead of Yom Kippur on the roof of a seminary overlooking the Western Wall, in Jerusalem’s Old City in 2012. (photo credit: REUTERS)
People pray ahead of Yom Kippur on the roof of a seminary overlooking the Western Wall, in Jerusalem’s Old City in 2012.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
An emergency global campaign aiming to help support Torah institutions in Israel and their students navigate the coronavirus crisis is aiming to raise a million dollars by 7 Av (July 28).
Each year thousands of young students flock to Israel for gap-year programs on Judaism and Jewish identity, nurturing a worldwide love for Torah and a lasting connection with Israel. However, this year many institutions are struggling to fund the infrastructure requirements put in place by the Health Ministry against the coronavirus. At the same time, many students' families are struggling to meet the cost thanks to the economic downturn brought about by the lockdown.
In response, organization World Mizrachi has launched the “If I Forget You, Jerusalem” Emergency Campaign ahead of Tisha Be'av to help more than 40 yeshivot and seminaries weather the financial storm, and fund scholarships for students struggling to meet the costs of attending.
So far the campaign has raised nearly $400,000, but together they hope to reach $1 million by Monday.
Among the organizations involved is Midreshet Lindenbaum, a pioneering Jewish seminary for women in Talpiot, Jerusalem. Founded in 1976, it is now the largest beit midrash (study hall) for women worldwide, and is seeking funds for its Tova Rhein Scholarship Fund.
"The economic crisis of COVID-19 has made the cost of a year at Midreshet Lindenbaum difficult for many families to shoulder. 50% of the incoming class of overseas students have requested financial aid," the organization said in a statement, adding that without donations, "we simply won’t have the funds to instill a love of Torah-learning within these most deserving young women."
Recounting her experience at the Tomer Devorah Seminary, another of the institutions taking part in the campaign, Sarah said: "I grew up in a frum home and got a solid Jewish education. In the middle of high school, I realized that I was looking for something way deeper in my Judaism. I started thinking about going to seminary, because I heard that a year in Israel is where the real growth happens.
"With the support of my parents, I spent an amazing year in Tomer Devorah. I developed a deep connection to Hashem and Yiddishkeit. I committed to create a future for myself which was totally dedicated to living a Torah life. Tomer Devorah changed my life, and made my Judaism real."
The seminary is seeking funds to help with renovations and technology updates to keep up with Health Ministry regulations, in addition to being able to offer scholarships to girls whose families are struggling to meet the costs of tuition.
Noting the urgency of the campaign, World Mizrachi's Chief Executive Rabbi Doron Perez said: “Few experiences transform Jewish lives more than a gap year in Israel. Let’s not allow the corona crisis to weaken our incredible Torah institutions and deny even one needy student from this life-changing year. This is the essence of Mizrachi’s mission.
Founded in 1902, World Mizrachi aims to inspire Jews worldwide with a sense of commitment to the Torah, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel. Beyond the emergency campaign, Mizrachi – an acronym for merkaz ruchani (spiritual center) – is planning to launch a Gap Year Division to consistently support and advocate on behalf of Torah institutions throughout Israel, as well as the students they serve.
The campaign is being hosted by CauseMatch, a social fundraising platform designed to empower nonprofit organizations through digital fundraising.
“If I Forget You, Jerusalem” is a direct response to the loss of revenue that these Torah institutions must overcome," said Joseph Bornstein, CEO of CauseMatch. "This is a public demonstration that the global Jewish community stands behind the yeshivot and seminaries that have educated - and will continue to educate - countless Bnei and Bnot Torah.”
On Wednesday, Interior Minister Arye Deri announced in a statement that his ministry will approve the entry into Israel of foreign students who were planning to begin their studies in Israel this coming October.
Donations to the campaign can be made by visiting: