JERUSALEM, Nov. 27, 2017 – An unusual $5.7 million (NIS 20 million) public-private partnership will provide a new home-away-from home for more than 4,000 at-risk students from troubled families who attend boarding schools across the country, thanks to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (“The Fellowship”), Israel’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, and the Israeli Public Forum for Youth Villages and Boarding Schools for Children at Risk.
The rare partnership between the government, The Fellowship, which is the country’s biggest non-profit, and private philanthropists on the forum will renovate 40 of the most dilapidated boarding schools across the country that provide a home-away-from-home for many of the 10,000 young people who are victims of physical abuse, sexual assault or neglect, and are considered at-risk youth. The goal is to provide a warm, secure environment for these young people, those involved said.
The ministry, led by Minister Haim Katz, will finance about $2.8 million, or NIS 10 million of the project, while The Fellowship, led by Founder and President Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, will contribute $2.27 million, or NIS 8 million, and the forum, led by businessman, philanthropist and Nobel Prize laureate Avi Naor will contribute $570,000, or NIS 2 million.
The nation’s boarding schools were privatized years ago and relied on private donations and state subsidies. Many of the boarding schools, which serve as homes for these at-risk children, have fallen into disrepair over time and suffer from overcrowding and health and safety hazards. This massive national project will include critical upgrades inside and out, including the replacement of worn pipes, asbestos removal, and bringing the buildings up to modern conditions.
“These young children are not responsible for the difficult circumstances they endure, and they deserve the best possible homes that we can provide,” said Rabbi Eckstein, after touring one of the buildings scheduled for repairs, the Neve Tzelim boarding school in Ramot Hashavim, last week. “For many years, The Fellowship has sponsored orphans and children in boarding schools and provided them with clothing, school supplies, and summer activities. These boys and girls are a part of Israel’s continuity and we must all contribute generously to their wellbeing. This is not a donation, but an investment in the future of our society.”
After the tour, Minister Katz discussed the partnership’s goals. “A home that is pleasant and inviting reinforces a feeling of belonging, fostering a homey atmosphere of warmth and love that these children and adolescents so desperately lack,” he said.
“Throughout the years, many institutions have been badly neglected, and I am pleased that we are launching efforts to remedy this injustice and show children in boarding schools, who all endured difficult and painful circumstances, that they are not invisible, and that we will invest in them. I am positive that the fresh surroundings and external renovations will contribute to the ability of these boys and girls to get themselves onto a track to a better future.”
Added Naor: “The initiative for the renovation project stemmed from the understanding that every child comes not only to the educational, therapeutic and social infrastructure that will help them, but also to a home that provides a sense of security and protection.”
The project to upgrade 40 of the most run-down boarding schools has already gotten underway, with renovations completed in 20 schools so far. The rest of the schools are undergoing extensive renovation, which will be completed in the coming months.
About The Fellowship:
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) was founded in 1983 to promote better understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews, and build broad support for Israel. Today it is one of the leading forces helping Israel and Jews in need worldwide – and is the largest channel of Christian support for Israel. Led by its founder and president, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, The Fellowship now raises more than $140 million per year, mostly from Christians, to assist Israel and the Jewish people. Since its founding, The Fellowship has raised more than $1.4 billion for this work. The organization has offices in Jerusalem, Chicago, Toronto, and Seoul. For more information, visit www.ifcj.org.