Rebuilding Lives-One Academic Scholarship At-a-Time

The father of orphans, the Champion of widows, Hashem, in His holy habitation. Psalms 68:6 (The Israel Bible™)

After the death of a parent, motivation for academic success as well as basic appreciation of life often decrease. Colel Chabad charity has a unique approach to orphans, which reaps outstanding positive results for hundreds of them every year.

Colel Chabad, the longest running social services in the Holy Land, invests a significant amount of time, funds and love to ensure that the country’s orphans have a bright future. Each year they support mass bar and bat mitzvah classes and celebrations for hundreds of them, give much needed vacations and holiday retreats to one parent families, provide orphans with subsidized wedding celebrations and give hundreds of academic scholarships through their Chesed Menachem Mendel Orphan Intervention program.

Starting last week, in three unique events, Colel Chabad is celebrating the success of approximately 300 orphans who completed their high school studies with honors. “Fatherless children generally have the highest rate of dropping out of school and academic failure,” explained Rabbi Sholom Duchman, Director of Colel Chabad, to Breaking Israel News. “Colel Chabad’s Chesed Menachem Mendel program is in its eighth year of helping orphans to not become part of this tragic statistic.”

The program provides individualized support for each orphan. Colel Chabad’s network of dedicated social workers and caring staff give tutors where needed and pay for enrichment activities, such as art and music lessons, animal care and sports.

Rabbi Duchman explained that, due to the organization’s desire to provide every graduate with the personal attention and honor he or she deserves, and the large number of high school students Colel Chabad helps, three separate festive events are due to be held throughout the week, one in Jerusalem, one in Samaria and one in central Israel.

Colel Chabad’s first priority is ensuring that struggling families have their basic needs met, such as proper nutritional and material sustenance,” continued Duchman, who flew in from the United States especially to attend this important event. “For impoverished widows with orphans, providing their family with even the basics can be daunting.”

The Chesed Menachem Mendel program takes an all inclusive holistic approach toward Israel’s orphans. Colel Chabad uses donations to the organization to provide the orphans with psychological evaluation and therapies, personal advocates with educators and school administration, private tutoring and remedial education, Big Brother or Big Sister companionship, summer camp, music or art lessons, animal care, sports lessons, along with holiday shopping cards, food baskets and supportive retreats.

The results are astonishing. Orphans who have passed through this program manifest few of the scars that normally result from the early loss of a father.

“We could just mail the scholarships and certificates to the families,” noted Rabbi Duchman. “However, we want to honor every orphan and their family by publicly and lovingly recognizing their personal and outstanding accomplishments against great odds.”

Each scholarship event includes emotional speeches and a lavish banquet. Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and Rishon LeZion, Moshe Shlomo Amar attends the Jerusalem gathering yearly. Members of the Barad family of New York, the Falic family from Miami, the Klein family from Britain and the Meromim Foundation are some of the generous benefactors of the scholarships who are in attendance.

Rabbi Sholom Duchman, Director of Colel Chabad (left), speaks with Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem and Rishon LeZion, Moshe Shlomo Amar. (Credit: Colel Chabad)

“Simon Falic  has given generously toward funding this program and his personal time to this important project,” shared Rabbi Duchman to Breaking Israel News. “For the past eight years, he has flown in with his family to personally honor the orphans he has supported to pass this special milestone in their lives.”

Excitement and emotions run high at the events. The orphans start their journey toward their scholarship with complex difficulties, both academically and emotionally. Their completion of high school with top grades and awards of excellence is a great accomplishment. Often, when the mother and child come on stage to receive their scholarship, one or the other will take the microphone and offer a heartfelt thank you to Colel Chabad for its tireless and continuous help.

Mrs. Bloom did just that at the Samarian event. She explained that her husband was murdered in a terrorist attack in 2002, leaving her with five young children and expecting their six child. “There is no end to the thanks I have for Colel Chabad and the scholarship program,” she said to the crowd in attendance. “People have a choice to help those in need. They have a choice to continue helping those in need or abandon them. Colel Chabad has continuously helped my family for 16 years. Though, as a widow, I am alone, with Colel Chabad in our lives, we have never felt alone.”

The program’s educational committee, headed by Rabbi Dr. Amram Blau and his dedicated team of project coordinators, put a personal touch to everything they do. In fact, Rabbi Blau personally calls up each orphan to receive his or her award and the love, care and respect is palpable.

Due to this intense one-on-one customized program, students have gone on to reach the highest ranks in Israel’s army, received university degrees and established thriving families of their own.

The program encourages the children to take responsibility for their lives and give back to society through their own volunteerism and passing forward the love and compassion they received through Colel Chabad. “When you have a student who, at age nine, was suffering from learning disabilities, puts in the effort, graduates with honors and is accepted into the engineering corps of the army, it continues to inspire us all,” said Duchman.

To help Israel’s orphans, please visit here.

Written in cooperation with Colel Chabad.

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