International Fellowship of Christians and Jews

Today, there are thousands of children enjoying a Jewish education at ORT schools across the former Soviet Union thanks to the support of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.

Since the early 1990’s ORT has been the only provider of Jewish education to the secular Jewish community in the Commonwealth of Independent States and Baltic States and now serves more than 7,500 students. But in the past decade, the budget for Heftsiba, the programme through which Israeli governments have supported this and other Jewish school networks in the region, has shrivelled by two-thirds.

“We receive funds from the Jewish Federations of North America and some from the Israeli Ministry of Education but if it wasn’t for the Fellowship’s support I believe we would lose at least 25 per cent of our children. It would be a disaster because they wouldn’t be able to get the Jewish education we provide and which, through them, re-connects families to their heritage,” said the Head of World ORT’s Representative Office for the CIS, Central Asia, Caucasian States and Baltic States, David Benish.


The IFCJ’s critically important role is its funding of school buses and kosher meals.

Rising anti-Semitism, terrible traffic, long distances and high costs conspire to make the simple act of getting to and from school a massive obstacle for many Jewish children.

The Principal of the ORT Alef school in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, Dolina Shalmina, said: “Anti-Semitism is flourishing in the region; some of our children have a specific ‘Jewish appearance’ so to have our own transport helps to solve the problem of security.”

Children at ORT schools have a long day: they learn the national curriculum but also extra, Jewish and technical subjects. That means eating well is particularly important if their energy levels are not to drop off. Not only that, many of the children live far from school, so a hearty breakfast is also important after a long commute. 

“I’m grateful to the donors for the tasty kosher meals at our school,” says Arina Efimova, a Grade 6 student in Bishkek. “They help us to study because lessons at school last all day long and the learning load is heavy. Every day we have tasty, hot meals which support us during the day and keep us vigorous.” 

“I have my breakfast at school almost every day as I get up very early and have no time to eat at home. I also enjoy my school lunches – they’re almost like homemade! I even know what I’ll be eating because I can look up the menu for the next day on the school website!” Alexandra Ionova, Grade 6, ORT Lipman School, Moscow.

 

“I am a religious Jew so it’s very important for me that the refectory provides kosher meals. Having proper food helps me to succeed in study and sport.” David Vishnevskiy, Grade 7, ORT Lipman School, Moscow.

 

“I always enjoy meals at school. But if I don’t want to eat or I’m missing school because of illness I can cancel my breakfast or lunch through the school website.” Elina Nasimova, Grade 8, ORT Lipman School, Moscow.