We were anxious. It was June, time was running out, and we were short $30,000.
Our Jewish Children is an organization my husband and I started many years ago to help fund students to be able to attend yeshivah who would otherwise attend public school. We started it because the single biggest factor in intermarriage is the lack of a yeshivah education. Sadly, there are 10,000 Jewish children in public school in Queens, which is more than in any other borough. The principal of a kiruv school in Queens recently lamented, “We are seeing something we didn’t see five years ago. Immigrants from 20 and 30 years ago have children who are intermarrying. We must do something to stave the tide; it’s a small window of time now to do it.”
Baruch Hashem, the number of students that Our Jewish Children is helping has been growing rapidly. Two years ago, we supported 37 students in eight schools. This past year, not only has our base of schools grown, but we are also funding students that Chazaq is sending to yeshivah. This has brought us up to over 173 students in 31 schools.
To help pay for all these students, we held a fundraiser in December at our home where Rabbi Paysach Krohn, well-known mohel, author, and speaker, graciously agreed to speak on behalf of the organization. We hoped to pull in more funding, so we could help all these families. It was heartwarming to see so many community members and local rabbanim in attendance. One parent spoke before Rabbi Krohn and expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Our Jewish Children. “I would not have been able to send my children to yeshivah without Our Jewish Children’s help,” he said. He noted how much it means to him that his children go to yeshivah and have Shabbos, and that they talk in a refined way and act in a refined way because of it. He shared that the fact that his children go to yeshivah has meant so much because they have taught the whole family about Shabbos and now they keep Shabbos, too.
After the fundraiser, many people donated to Our Jewish Children, but a significant deficit still loomed over us. Particularly because of Chazaq’s No Child Left Behind initiative (an all-out effort to enroll as many Jewish students currently attending public school into yeshivah as possible) we had many new students to help.
By the end of the school year in June, we still had not closed the deficit. We needed to fulfill our commitment to 31 schools. When I asked my husband how much we are short, he said $30,000.
I swallowed and said, “Oh.” This was quite a large sum and we had already run our big fundraiser in December. Luckily, I knew that Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim was holding a Chinese Auction in June and when I found out that the grand prize was $30,000, I had a great feeling. I was sure Hashem would help us, since this was the exact amount we needed. I told my family, “I am going to win because I will give all the money to Our Jewish Children.”
My family members smiled indulgently and went on with whatever they were doing. No one seemed too impressed, but I was sure.
I told my husband that he should not worry, because I had a strong feeling that we would win the money from the auction. He said, “Chances are infinitesimal. So many people buy tickets for that auction. There is no way that you can count on that.”
I said, “Please, let’s stay positive.”
He said, “Hope you’re right.”
After all, I was davening for this very hard, and visualizing the way I learned in the Jewish positive thinking class I took a few years ago. Also, I learned to verbalize what I was visualizing, so I kept saying I was going to win. I felt confident I would win because it was such an important tz’dakah. I davened, “Hashem, you know what is best, but please help us fund these students and keep them in yeshivah for next year.”
I bought four raffle tickets for the Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim Chinese Auction, two from each of my sons-in-law who are learning there, and I assured them that I was going to win. They thanked me for buying the tickets.
The night of the raffle drawing was Thursday night, June 28. Late that night, I checked my email. I saw there was an email from Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim with the subject, “Grand Prize Winner.” My hand trembled a little as I clicked on the email. I held my breath and then I read the name of the winner. I reread it again just to make sure I was reading it correctly.
I didn’t win.
How could that be? There was a different person’s name listed there. I closed the email and decided to do what Rabbi Arush recommends in his book Say Thank you… See Miracles. He teaches that we should thank Hashem for difficulties and troubles, because Hashem knows what is best for us; and if we can bring ourselves to really feel gratitude and to understanding whatever Hashem does is best, then He will bring us the y’shuah we need. His book is filled with stories of people who were able to thank Hashem for their difficulties with full hearts, and who, then, miraculously found their difficulty was taken away.
With this idea in mind, I glanced again at the disappointing email and then I took a deep breath and said, “Okay. Thank you, Hashem, for this unexpected outcome. You know what is best for us. Thank you that I didn’t win the auction, but You know we still need to pay for all these children this year. Please help us pay for these children.”
A few minutes later, really just a few minutes later, my husband’s phone rang. Earlier in the day someone had called my husband and said he wanted to donate money to a worthy cause and he recalled hearing about our organization and that Rabbi Paysach Krohn had spoken for us. He couldn’t come that night that Rabbi Krohn spoke, but he wanted to know more about Our Jewish Children. My husband told him about what we do, and he mentioned we are short funds of $30,000.
Anyway, that same man called shortly after I read that email and asked my husband if he could come over to bring a donation.
It was late, and I went upstairs to bed. My husband welcomed him in. He expected we would get a usual donation of $200 or something like that amount, which of course would be greatly appreciated. The man handed my husband a check for Our Jewish Children. When my husband looked at the amount, he was completely overwhelmed.
He thanked the man profusely and told him it would be a huge z’chus for his parents’ n’shamos. After the man left, he raced upstairs and asked me to guess how much this man just donated to Our Jewish Children.
I asked with a lot of hope. “$30,000?”
We both looked at one another in shock.
I just said, “Baruch Hashem! Whoa!”
It was the exact amount we needed to finish paying for the children we were supporting this year. Hashem sent it on the same night as the Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim auction. I won the money in a different way. Chasdei Hashem! Mi k’amcha Yisrael!
This upcoming school year, Our Jewish Children expects to support at least 200 students, which will require a budget close to $200,000. The organization is totally volunteer, so that nearly 100 percent of all donations goes directly to enable students to leave public school and continue to attend yeshivah. Chazaq is working hard to enroll many such students in yeshivah. However, for funding, Chazaq depends on organizations like Our Jewish Children to provide the “makeh b’patish” – the necessary extra support that pushes parents to make the decision to enroll their children in yeshivah. All donations are tax-deductible and can be sent to Our Jewish Children, 147-37 70th Avenue, Flushing, NY 11367 or online at www.ourjewishchildren.org.
By Susie Garber