Eighty-five students were awarded scholarships for academic excellence at a ceremony of Colel Chabad, Israel’s longest continuously running charitable organization. An initiative of the Chessed Menachem Mendel program, the students are provided with customized financial and social support to help them through the difficulties of having lost a parent. Founded in 1788 under the direction of the first Lubavitcher Rebbe to ensure that there would be charitable support for the Jewish population in the Holy Land, the organization coordinates an expansive array of educational, monetary, and nutritional programs for Israel’s needy.
Held at the Gutnik Family Hall in Jerusalem and sponsored by the Barad Family Foundation, the participants, surrounded by family and friends in attendance, were individually presented with certificates 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 Chessed Menachem Mendel. “Tonight we celebrate the students that prove that no hardship will get in the way of their success. 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 today.”
Students in the program are provided with customized help for each child ranging from tutoring, big brother/big sister programs, assistance and intervention with school administrators and teachers, extracurricular programming, and therapies in order to help them succeed in school and socially.
“It’s not just about math and science and test scores throughout the school year,” said Rabbi Amram Bloi, educational director of Chessed Menachem Mendel, who recalls every student and their personal story without any notes necessary. “It’s also about finding their place in the greater world and teaching them to become contributing members of society.”
In 2014, Hadas Mizrachi and her husband Baruch were on their way to family for Pesach with four of her five children in the car when they were ambushed. Baruch, a high-ranking police officer, was killed on the spot; Hadas was seriously injured; and the children miraculously remained safe despite more than 40 bullets to the car. “Colel Chabad came to me and immediately offered help and that is the true strength of Am Yisrael–to give to people in need out of the kindness of their hearts,” said Hadas, whose daughter Sharon received her scholarship award at the event. “I’m so proud that my daughter now volunteers at a school for children who have lost parents. We received help and support, and now it is our time to help others.”
“This program gives us as parents the sense of financial security to help to provide our children with the help they need and gives the children the motivation to persevere and succeed,” said Etti Mamistalov, whose husband Yossi, a bus driver, was killed in a bus bombing attack 15 years ago while saving many of his passengers.
“With the scholarship incentive program, these children who come from all around the country and from all different backgrounds and situations take the responsibility for their success upon themselves, making them more invested in the outcome,” added Marton. “We are so thankful to the Barad family for giving us this way of supporting these children and helping them throughout the entire school year.”