20th July 2019
The Chomesh L’Chinuch initiative distributed over £250,000 to 26 local Jewish schools representing 6,036 pupils at an event on Sunday 20th January 2019 at Beis Hamedrash Beis Yisroel known as the “Dayan’s”.
The distribution event was hosted by Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu and was attended by the Rabbonim of the other three kehillos which have so far adopted Chomesh L’Chinuch. Rabbi Y.M. Greenberg of Golders Green Beth Hamedrash, Rabbi S.Y. Bixenspanner of Hendon Adass Yisroel Congregation and Rav M. Halpern of Beis Hamedrash Beis Shmuel. Also present were over 40 governors and school officers of the local Jewish schools and the Chomesh L’Chinuch committees from each of the Kehillohs.
This event brings the total distributed by the Chomesh L’Chinuch campaign to over £510,000 since its inception at GGBH in 2015, under the guidance of Rav YM Greenberg. This year’s amount was an increase of £90,000 from last year’s distribution of £160,000
Chomesh L’Chinuch is a shul-based project providing a communal solution to a communal problem. Shul members are encouraged to prioritise and allocate one-fifth (a ‘Chomesh’) of their Tzedokah distributions to the local schools attended by the children of their Shul. This is based on the Halachic guidance that the community must support its essential infrastructure including local schools and the importance of correctly prioritising one’s Tzedokah donations. Members are not expected to increase their already generous Tzedokah distributions, rather it is simply to allocate an appropriate percentage (20% – a ‘Chomesh’) to local chinuch.
Dayan Chanoch Ehrentreu opened the fourth Chomesh L’Chinuch distribution event and spoke passionately about the role of the schools. Based on an idea from R’ Moshe Mordechai Epstein ztl, Rosh Yeshiva of Chevron about the concept of the extra level of holiness that exists in a moshav ir chomah – a dwelling of walled city. A Jewish city is only possible if the mosdos HaTorah especially the schools, are established and fully supported. If not, we lack the basic and essential chomah of the city. The schools, represented as the chomas ho’ir – the walls of the city – are not simply the protection of the city rather they actually create the essence and the foundation of the city. Furthermore in the same way the inhabitants of the city must raise the funds for building the wall which physically protects the city, all the more so, the community is obligated to support the spiritual chomah – represented by our schools.
He thanked the members of his Shul as well as all the other CLC Shuls, – GGBH, Hendon Adass and Beis Hamedrash Beis Shmuel who have joined the Chomesh L’Chinuch program, for their generosity and sense of communal responsibility. He encouraged more members to sign up and more Shuls to join. This will ensure the communal Chinuch deficits are fully addressed. He added, “I would like to salute with admiration the Chomesh L’Chinuch committee and of course all the School Governors, Rebbes & Teachers in general. We need to support our schools even more so than previously due to the significant challenges which our schools are facing from the external world. The more kehillohs that participate in Chomesh L’Chinuch the stronger our foundations will become”.
Mr Eli Katz, joint founder of Chomesh L’Chinuch, explained the background of the initiative and praised the unstinting dedication of the school Chairs and Governors. He provided detailed statistics regarding the financial challenges faced by the local Jewish schools highlighting the substantial shortfalls amongst our local primary and secondary schools with a total annual shortfall of over £7m per year.
He added, that a key new initiative for 2018, was sponsorship from BEST – Benzi Dunner Schools Trust, which incentivised Chomesh L’Chinuch donors who set up new standing orders. He thanked the sponsors of this initiative for the coming year, which so far include BEST, Achisomoch and especially Delapage.
He reiterated that “Funds are desperately needed by all schools and how they are issuing a cry for SOS – Save our Schools, or more literally – Save our Souls!” He urged every school governor to engage with their local Shul Rov, Gabboim and askonim to encourage their Shul to join the Chomesh L’Chinuch initiative in order to help it reach the initial goal of £1,000,000 per annum..
He concluded by thanking the Chomesh L’Chinuch team including Jono Milner and Simcha Cohen, as well as each of the Chomesh L’Chinuch shul committee members. “The success of the initiative is only due to the hard work and effort from all the committee members. They should be proud of their achievements – lehagdil Torah ulehadiroh.“
Mr Emanuel Meyer, joint founder of Chomesh L’Chinuch, organised the distribution of the grant cheques to each school. Dayan Ehrentreu, Rabbi Greenberg, Rabbi Bixenspanner and Rav Halpern, in their respective capacities of representing their own chosheve Kehillahs and their very generous members, were given the kovod of presenting the cheques to the School representatives. This was the largest amount distributed since the inception of Chomesh L’Chinuch and includes funds raised by members of Golders Green Beth Hamedrash and Hendon Adass over the last year together with funds raised from members of BH Beis Yisroel and BH Beis Shmuel who joined the initiative during 2018.
The event concluded with a excellent presentation by Mr Charles Pascoe, Principal of London Tax Group of BDO, who presented a comprehensive analysis of the range of HMRC related gift-aid issues impacting both independent and state-funded schools regarding voluntary donations and fund-raising activities including school dinners, raffles and auctions. Many attendees highlighted the importance of understanding these matters and how they now plan to adapt their plans to comply with the guidelines.
The Chomesh L’Chinuch event attracted substantial praise from local schools Governors.
Mr Moishe Lisser, Chairman, Pardes House Grammar, “To deliver the best Torah chinuch for our talmidim, we need to ensure strong and stable funding from the NW London community, especially the members of the Shuls where our families daven. This communal initiative strongly demonstrates the harmony of halacho, generosity and kehillo partnership. I will personally be engaging with our local Shuls to encourage the adoption of Chomesh L’Chinuch”.
Mr Jonny Feinmesser, Hasmonean Governor – Head of Finance Committee, Trustee of the Hasmonean High School Charitable Trust, “At a time when funding shortfalls mean schools across the country are struggling financially, the work of Chomesh L’Chinuch, galvanising the community to support their local Jewish Schools, is a G-d send. At Hasmonean we are already having to make difficult educational decisions to balance budgets, meaning every penny raised by Chomesh L’Chinuch goes to providing a better educational outcome and allows us to retain and pay our teachers.”
Eli Inglis, Finance Governor, Beis Yaakov Primary School, “No longer is the tremendous financial burden sitting solely on the shoulders of just a few governors, but the NW London Kehilla has come together to take part in the responsibility of ensuring our children have the best possible Chinuch and don’t have to chas vesholom do “without” due to financial restrictions. We wish to express our deepest הכרת הטוב to the committee and each and every donor, knowing you care and the support you have shown us, is what gives us the chizuk to continue in our עבודת הקודשׁ.”
Mr Benzi Adler, Governor, Menorah High School for Girls commented, “Once again Chomesh L’Chinuch has delivered significant assistance to our school. We are very grateful to members of GGBH, Hendon Adass, the Dayan’s and Beis Shmuel for their generosity and to Chomesh L’Chinuch for growing this initiative and leading the way by example.”
Mr Andrew Sprung, Chair of Governors, Pardes House Primary School remarked; “”On behalf of the students, parents, governors and trustees of Pardes House Primary School, I would like to thank the many GGBH, Hendon Adass, Beis Yisroel and Beis Shmuel members for their very generous support of their shul’s Chomesh L’Chinuch initiative. The very significant funds raised will benefit the students at Pardes and make a very real difference to their lives.”.
Mr Allan Becker, Chairman, Menorah Grammar School added, “I am delighted that Beis Shmuel and Beis Yisroel have now joined GGBH & Hendon Adass in adopting the CLC initiative. I am incredibly grateful to those who have contributed to this absolutely wonderful initiative: it really demonstrates just how much the community values the importance of building a strong Jewish future.”
Yitschok Mett, Governor, Torah Vodaas Primary School, “What this initiative has achieved is fantastic and it was with a feeling of pride to have attended as part of a kehilloh which has managed to make this concept a reality – a model and example to kehillos worldwide. We are grateful to all the donors in the respective Chomesh L’Chinuch shuls.”
Mr Uri Kaplan, Chair of Governors, Avigdor Hirsch Torah Temimah School added, “I salute each and every of the many members of the Chomesh L’Chinuch kehillohs who have so generously donated upto one-fifth of their tzedokoh to the local schools. As a significant beneficiary, we encourage other donors and kehillohs to join the Chomesh L’Chinuch initiative as a priority and truly demonstrate how the community should support the chinuch of our children. This is especially relevant at a time of squeezed budgets and resources”.
Jonathan Wolinsky, Chairman of Governors, Menorah Primary School, “We are truly grateful to the promoters of this wonderful initiative and, of course, to all those who have so generously signed up to it. These funds are making a significant impact on our budget and have enabled us to take on extra, much needed, staff, notwithstanding the general financial pressure we, like other schools, are facing.”
Chomesh L’Chinuch are keen to rollout this initiative across more Shuls in the area and given the initial success, many other local Shuls and School Treasurers are eagerly awaiting the expansion of the project to their communities. CLC are aiming for £1m distributions per year
Many of the School Governors in attendance at the event commented that nearly every Jewish school in NW London and beyond, with its substantial Kodesh programme, has a significant financial shortfall. In order to deliver a first class and successful Kodesh curriculum for the chinuch of our children, the difference has to be fund-raised from voluntary donations and the general community. In many schools these fund raising efforts are very challenging and gaps still remain.
Any local Kehilloh looking to launch the Chomesh L’Chinuch initiative are encouraged to contact Mr Katz or Mr Meyer on [email protected].