Press Release

For Immediate Release:
September 15, 2020

Contact:
Samantha Kupferman, West End Strategy Team
skupferman@westendstrategy.com; Cell: +1 202-215-9260

 

Funders Unite to Preserve European Jewish Schools from Closure

Crisis fund ensures Jewish schoolchildren in 13 communities threatened by economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic can continue education

LONDON – Thanks to the generosity of seven funders teaming up to secure the future of Jewish education in communities across Europe, more than 3,000 children in 13 communities will be able to continue to pursue their studies at Jewish community day schools. The detrimental economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has threatened European day schools, which play a central role connecting children and families to the local Jewish community and educating future leaders. Without additional support, many of the schools would be unable to provide tuition relief to families affected by the crisis, and other schools face existential risk of closure. Most of the beneficiary schools were in precarious financial positions before the pandemic hit. Now, with parents struggling to pay tuition as well as regular donors unable to support the schools at previous levels, the situation has become dire.

Educating for Impact (EFI), a London-based nonprofit organization that promotes strategic change in Jewish schools to secure and strengthen Jewish communities in Europe, supports schools in 19 cities across the continent. EFI is supported through the generosity of seven partners, together with Israel’s ministries of education and diaspora affairs and their designated partner, United at the Center for Educational Technology. Five of EFI’s partners have come together alongside two external funders to launch the European Jewish Community Day School Crisis Fund.

Ronald S. Lauder, honorary president of EFI’s board of trustees and president of the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, said on behalf of the trustees and other fund donors, “Now more than ever, it is our responsibility as Jews to support Jewish communities in Europe by investing in their schools, which will guarantee their future. We must be particularly steadfast in that commitment during times of crisis. Historically, we have been able to overcome the greatest challenges by supporting each other and working together.” The Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, an EFI partner, supports over 30 Jewish schools, kindergartens and summer camps (and other projects) in 15 countries in Central and Eastern Europe.

The European Jewish Community Day School Crisis Fund announced 2.3 million euros (approximately $2.7 million) in grants to 13 schools in need to ensure they could keep their doors open as well as provide scholarships to students struggling to afford tuition as a result of the pandemic. Communities experiencing hardship applied for grants, and funds were allocated based upon the following criteria: increased scholarship needs, decreased donor funding, decreased community funding, and increased costs related to compliance with health guidelines. Grants awarded range from 75,000 euros to 405,000 euros (approximately $89,000-$479,000).

Professor David Latchman, chairman of EFI’s board of trustees, said, “As this unprecedented health and economic crisis continues to unfold, the board of trustees of Educating for Impact remains deeply committed to supporting Jewish schools and communities in Europe. We are fully dedicated to ensuring the existence and sustainability of active and thriving Jewish life through Jewish education. We applaud and are inspired by the heroic response and resilience that we have seen from the leadership of European Jewish communities.” Professor Latchman is also chairman of the trustees of the Maurice Wohl Charitable Foundation, and a trustee of the Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Philanthropic Foundation, an EFI partner and crisis fund donor.

European Jewish community day schools are unique, irreplaceable institutions. In many cases, they are the only Jewish schools in their respective communities.

“Faced with an unprecedented world crisis that endangered the continuity of the only Jewish school in Madrid, thanks to the fact that we are part of the Educating For Impact network, the generosity of its donors, and the determination of the EFI management team, the future of our school has been secured,” said Luna Alfón Coriat, principal of Ibn Gabirol-Estrella Toledano School of Madrid. “More than 320 Jewish children will have the opportunity to continue their Jewish and general studies, and we have even been able to strengthen the Judaic studies area. which is the very soul of our school and community. Most importantly, we have ensured that no Jewish child is left behind for economic reasons.”

Added Gabriel Mops, president of the executive committee of the Hatikva School of Barcelona, and a parent of children in grades 5 and 8, “We were impressed to see how quickly Educating for Impact and its funders were able to read and react to the critical situation we are facing, creating the European Jewish Community Day School Crisis Fund. Such a fundamental supporting tool allows our school to provide scholarships to more than 70 students that will be able to continue their Jewish education, strengthening the future of the Jewish Community in Barcelona.”

All communities which applied for grants received support. The communities (with school names following) include:

  • Athens (Lauder Athens Jewish Community School)
  • Barcelona (Colegio Hatikva)
  • Berlin (Lauder Beth-Zion School)
  • Helsinki (Helsinki Jewish Community School)
  • Leeds (Brodetsky Primary School)
  • Madrid (Ibn Gabirol School)
  • Milan (School of the Jewish Community of Milan)
  • Moscow (Lauder Etz-Chaim School of Moscow)
  • Prague (Lauder School of Prague)
  • Rome (Rome Jewish Community School)
  • Sofia (Ronald S. Lauder School in Sofia)
  • Tallinn (Jewish Community of Estonia Education System)

“There are no words that can express our gratitude and appreciation for the decision of the Educating for Impact board to support our new school with additional funding for COVID-19 recovery,” said Julia Dandolova, CEO of the Organisation of the Jews in Bulgaria – Shalom, which is connected to the Ronald S. Lauder School in Sofia. “This grant is not only financial support but an important reminder that we are not alone, and we have partners who care deeply for our community.”

The crisis fund is funded by the following EFI partners:

  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
  • Ronald S. Lauder Foundation
  • Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Philanthropic Foundation
  • Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe
  • An anonymous donor

And the following external funders:

  • Maimonides Fund
  • Mikhail Fridman

Most schools are opening the school year and their buildings under significant public health regulations and social distancing guidelines, requiring them to adjust schedules, change teaching assignments, and invest in new technologies. At the same time, schools are planning distance learning curricula in preparation for the potential need to shut down again. Many schools have had their start date adjusted many times by local government.

Representatives of EFI and of the grantee Jewish schools and communities, as well as school students and parents, are available for interview. Please reach out to skupferman@westendstrategy.com.

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Educating for Impact is a transformative initiative that secures and strengthens Jewish communities in Europe through increasing the impact of their Jewish schools. EFI is an independent, charitable entity registered in the United Kingdom. EFI is supported through the generosity of seven funding partners (American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, Matanel Foundation, Rothschild Foundation Hanadiv Europe, Maurice and Vivienne Wohl Philanthropic Foundation, World ORT, and an anonymous donor), in partnership with Israel’s ministries of education and diaspora affairs and their designated partner, United at the Center for Educational Technology. More information is available at educatingforimpact.com.