It may have happened 6,000 miles away, but for the 10th-grade boys of the Rambam Mesivta High School in Lawrence, the horrific tragedy that took place Tuesday morning in Jerusalem struck very close to home. As they struggled to comprehend the senseless slaughter of four men who were daveningShacharis, the teens elected to do something concrete to help the victims’ children, and by noon, the students had launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for the orphans who were sitting shivah in Har Nof.
“Some of these kids are not all that different than we are,” said 10th-grader Gabe Greenbaum of Woodmere, who spearheaded the creation of the crowdfunding site. “How can anyone imagine their father going to shul one morning and never coming home again?”
“Maybe we can’t bring their fathers back,” observed Daniel Yizhaky of West Hempstead. “But at least we can help them by making their financial situation a little easier.”
The students launched their initiative on fundraising site CrowdRise at noon. By the next morning, over $14,000 had been raised for the Goldberg, Kupinsky, Twersky, and Levine families. The fund now also includes the Seyf family. The goal is to raise at least $36,000.
“There is zero overhead on this project,” said Rabbi Aryeh Young, a 10th-grade rebbe at Rambam. “Every penny raised will go directly to the families, and we hope to meet our goal before shivah is over.”
Rabbi Zev Meir Friedman, rosh mesivta at Rambam, praised the students for their ability to transform their sorrow into a call for action that will hopefully yield impressive results.
“You can discuss the concept of kol Yisrael areivim zeh lazeh dozens of times, but today our young men have shown that they don’t only learn those words, they live by them,” said Rabbi Friedman. “We are very proud of the initiative that they have shown and hope that it will bring some small measure of solace to the families.”
The grassroots campaign is being managed by the teens, who are using social media to spread the word. The Rambam sophomores are hoping that students from other schools will join their campaign and will help them surpass their goal within a matter of days.
“We are hoping to get others schools involved in this effort; imagine if together we could raise $50,000 or even $100,000” said 12th-grader Avi Martin of Queens. “We hope that by raising a substantial amount of money we can not only help the families through their financial difficulties, but also show family members that we are with them at this terrible time.”
Contributions to the Rambam campaign can be made at www.crowdrise.com/HarNofTerror.
The Rambam students welcome other schools to join in their campaign. For more information or to reach the students leading this initiative, please e-mail Rabbi Aryeh Young at firstname.lastname@example.org.