Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Letter form the Cheder Board

Dear Friends,

Over the last week, we have seen an enormous effort being made by many parents to raise funds for our dear kinderlach. 700 people have already contributed! It is incredibly inspiring to see so many fathers and mothers and grandmothers and grandfathers focusing on helping make our school the best one it can be. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

We have also received many questions which we would like to respond to as best as we can: 

Why was this campaign so last minute?

In an ideal world we would have had more time to prepare and we would have scheduled the campaign at a more convenient time. We, the volunteer members of the Cheder board, have done an enormous amount of difficult fundraising. Besides the one million dollars for the Shnei Ohr campus, $500,000 was raised towards this past year's operating budget, and $250,000 was raised towards this upcoming year's operating budget now even before school started. These are historic figures even if they are not enough. We were hoping to raise a lot more but we simply could not do it in time. Our rebbies, morahs, and staff are currently two payrolls behind. We, the community, have a responsibility to them. Therefore, we had no choice but to turn to our parent body, who care for our children's chinuch more than anyone, to partner with us in this effort so we can start the year knowing that are staff will be paid on time for at least the first few months of the year. 

Why isn't the Cheder transparent? 

We are as transparent as we can be. There is nothing to hide. Our budget is $4,050,000, tuition brings in $2,800,000, we obtain $370,000 in government grants, rental income from camps brings in $40,000. 75% of families get a tuition scholarship. This leaves us with a deficit of $840,000 for the upcoming school year. The board is dedicated to raising a large portion of this but we simply cannot do it alone. We are happy to answer any questions about the school finances or anything else. Feel free to reach out.  

Why are so many families not paying full tuition but seem to be living a very comfortable lifestyle? 

We are extremely grateful to those who pay full tuition and to those who truly pay what they can even if it is not full tuition. The balance of being firm with tuition and being sensitive to those who are in need is a very delicate one. We try very hard to get as much tuition as we can in a manner that gives families the dignity that they deserve. As a community we must be there for every family - those who have more resources and those who have less. A core value for us is Ahavas Yisroel. At the end of the day it is up to each person to make paying their tuition obligation a priority in their life. We should hope that parents realize that nothing is more important than their children's education and tuition is not the area to cut corners. 

Why doesn't the board communicate more often?

We would love to and we should. We are simply overwhelmed with trying to function as executive director and a full development team on top of our core board responsibilities. We are all volunteers with full-time jobs or Shlichus of our own. In an effort to communicate directly with parents, we recently held a town-hall style meeting and if you weren't there you can still watch it at 

What will happen if the campaign does not achieve its goal?

We are very optimistic that our parent body will make this happen for our children's future. But if chas v'shalom we don't then we cannot begin Cheder without securing the funding required to pay our dedicated rabbies, morahs, and staff for at least a few months ahead. It is simply not fair to them and not fair to our dear children who deserve teachers who are not working under extreme financial stress. 

Why should I support a school when I have had so many bad experiences in the past? 

We are well aware that people have had negative experiences with the school over the years. We feel your pain. We really do. Some of us on the board have also experienced sub-par chinuch experiences and/or sub-par experiences relating to tuition and administration with this mosad in the past. But in order to transform the school into one that will be excellent, we need to look forward and not backward. Punishing the school now, at such an exciting time of growth, will only hurt our children. Please see the many improvements that are being implemented for this upcoming school year here. These updates cost a lot of money. We need your partnership to pay for them. 

Why are we working on an 18 million dollar campus when we can't pay the teachers now?

It does seem contradictory. But if we only remain focused on the trees and never focus on the forest we will never get the resources that our children need so badly. So while it is difficult to work on a long-term campus when we are late on payroll now, we still must. Otherwise, our children will never have a facility where they can truly thrive. Additionally, a percentage of all Shnei Ohr income goes towards Cheder's current operational costs.

What, yet another matching campaign? 

Yes and no. Yes, it is a matching campaign and no it is not like the previous ones. This campaign has some very unique components to it. For years the community had asked the board to raise money from outside the Monsey Chabad community and we are very proud that $200,000 of our matching funds are from outside the Monsey Chabad community. Most of these matchers are giving only if they see our community coming together to give the rest. If we don't care about our own school why should they? We also understand that many parents are weighed down by their tuition obligations. Remember, 75% of our parents receive a tuition scholarship. So we found a platform that will allow for each family to raise from others - family, friends, and business associates. Reasonable goals were created for each family. If you believe your family's goal should be raised or lowered, please let us know and we will work with you. 

Why is the board spending so much money if it wasn't yet secured? 

We believe that we must put into place the highly capable leaders and systems that will allow for our children to have the best chinuch possible. Our approach is that instead of having 100 problems associated with ineffectiveness we will invest in making things effective and have one problem of raising money. We believe that people will invest in success. We sincerely hope that you will recognize this and invest with us and receive the best return possible - Chassidishe children with exemplary midos who love Torah and Yiddishkeit. 

Why is this my problem?

As the saying goes, "It takes a village." We are one community and we all have the same goals. When we all work together we will succeed. We all share equal responsibility to ensure that this mosad becomes the best it can be. Everyone can contribute - some can donate funds, some can get others to donate funds, some can give time, some can help organize events, and everyone can be positive and encouraging. Every man and woman can make a difference! 

Friends, the bottom line is that we have an extremely powerful potion being mixed together here. We have hundreds of tinokos shel beis raban about to come to school and connect to Hashem in the most powerful way possible - by immersing themselves in His holy Torah. The entire world, frum and not-yet-frum, are searching for what we have - Chassidus Chabad. When they taste it they can't get enough of it. We have it! We have amazing leaders in the form of our Rabbi Kaplan, Mrs. Rosenbluh, Mrs. Light, and their rebbies, morohs, and teachers. We have so many exciting major and minor improvements being made for this year. The Yetzer Hara sees this and is going to work overtime to prevent this. He will give you every excuse in the book why it is the board's fault, the menahel's fault, the rebbies' fault, the parents fault, etc. He will encourage you to post your negative thoughts on WhatsApp to discourage others. 

Friends, let's be honest. It is all excuses. It is nonsense. It is the Yetzer Hara.

A few dollars should not stand in the way of our children's future. We can make this happen! 

Let us be optimistic about the future. Let us all encourage each other. Let us only share positive messages. 

Before deciding not to help with the campaign, before posting a negative message about the Cheder - please take a moment and picture the adorable pure Mendels, Mushkas, Levis, and Nechama Dinas and ask yourself - will my decision help them or the opposite? 

Let us focus on creating the best Cheder that Lubavitch has to offer. Let Cheder Chabad of Monsey be a shining light to Monsey and the entire world of what Chabad chinuch really is. Let us give our children what they deserve. The time is now. 


With deep humility and lots of love, 

Yona Abenson, Co-President
Avi Weinstein, Co-President
Dov Drizin, Vice President
Tzili Ehrenreich, Treasurer
Yossi Hirsch, Secretary
Beryl Frankel
Avraham Hayman
Yossi Light
Yossi Solomon
Board of Directors