On April 29th, Or Hachaim’s students proudly handed over a check to Schneur Braunstein of Tomchei LA. At the Or Hachaim Chinese Auction, Braunstein accepted the check on behalf of Tomchei Shabbos saying, “LA spends $100 for each of the 150 families who receive Shabbat meals from our organization each week. May you always be on the donating end and not the receiving end of this program.”
Rabbi Gabay is Dean of Yeshivat at Or Hachaim Academy and Rabbi of Congregation Adat Yeshurun, in North Hollywood. Tomchei Shabbos organizes its weekly distributions from the shul, which is next to the school, so it made perfect sense for his students to focus their attention on this charity. Finding a fresh idea for a fundraising program needed creativity, but this came from the entrepreneurial Jonathan Kraut, parent of three students in the school and YOHA Experience Coordinator who designed The Tehillim Project.
Last year, Kraut, and his wife, Michal, created The YOHA Experience as an umbrella program that families would find “fun and exciting.” This program increased in size and scope as the year progressed and will now be a prominent part of the school experience. Each program raises a small amount of money to provide seed money for the next program. Now, the program distributes car magnets with the school logo and awards prizes for photos taken with the logo at interesting and different places, for example, when skiing at Big Bear or hiking in the mountains. There is YOHA Apparel which also encourages family members and students to wear school branded clothing and also take pictures wherever they go. There is a Presidential Fitness Challenge, which will help raise funds to renovate the kitchen facilities and improve the PE program and is held on Presidents Day. There is also the Or Hachaim Academy IDF Soldier Project. This is designed as part of a larger goal of instilling Jewish pride in students. Students from all grade levels are actively involved in interviewing past and present IDF soldiers and their family members as well as collecting photos and mementos from all the wars and conflicts those soldiers fought in. This will be published as a media site and book.
The Tehillim Project was launched in Adar and will now be an annual event, promising more goodwill for the community. The kids were set the goal of raising $100 as a class or approximately $5 each student to sponsor one family’s meals through Shabbat. They went to family and friends and asked for sponsorship of 10 cents per Tehillim, which they would read for an hour, in someone’s honor, at the Thursday Tehillim Assembly.
In the end the total amount raised by the kids was $1,700 across 300 students. Kraut, along with others in the school, reached out to the greater community to find matching funds so they were able to double the funds and the first year’s Tehillim Project raised an impressive $3,400.
Kraut was thrilled with what the program achieved. “I think the reason we were successful is that the school wanted to micro-fundraise. The idea and our goals were small,l so the children could handle the program with just an understanding of the power of Tehillim and raw enthusiasm. Parents are donation-tired by this time of the year so we had to position this as something spiritual, compassionate but inexpensive and make it easy for both the students and donors. Although the students only asked for 10 cents a sponsor, they found that far larger amounts were being donated. It was very exciting.”
The Chinese Auction was also a success for the school with 37 prizes including tickets to Laser Tag, a bicycle, an alarm system and a year’s supply of spices.
For more information on Or Hachaim Acedemy and the YOHA Experience contact Jonathan Kraut at jonathankraut.YOHA@gmail.com and to learn about the Or Hachaim IDF Soldier Project contact IDFProject.YOHA@gmail.com. To donate to Tomchei Shabbos contact Schneur Braunstein at Tomchei LA, 345 North La Brea, Suite 208, Los Angeles, CA 90036