NEW YORK (Dec. 18)
The Federation of Jewish Philanthropies announced today emergency grants of up to $200,000 to aid three vandalized Orthodox Hebrew day schools – the first financial grants to non-member agencies in the 51-year history of the Federation.
Samuel J. Silberman, Federation president, said the unprecedented action had been unanimously approved by the Federation board of trustees. The three schools to be helped in a two-stage program are the Yeshiva of Eastern Parkway, the Ahi Ezer Yeshiva and the Sharai Zedek Hebrew Academy, all in Brooklyn. They have an enrollment of 1,850 children. The Federation, which comprises 130 medical, health, recreational and social service agencies in metropolitan New York, distributes funds only to member institutions. Mr. Silberman explained that the problem was “an emergency, and a Jewish responsibility, that Federation cannot – nor would it want to – avoid.”
In the first stage, he said, the Federation was appropriating $50,000 to meet the needs of the three day schools for relocation of classes, rental of temporary quarters and replacement of books, sacred scrolls, ritual objects, equipment and other necessities, to enable the schools to resume full educational activities. The second stage will provide aid for rebuilding, repairing or renovating the damaged and destroyed facilities. Mr. Silberman said that after the schools have determined the extent and costs of their capital needs, the Federation will make a grant of 20 percent of the cost to a maximum of $150,000. Officials of the schools had reported to the Federation that they were in serious financial difficulties, indicating that insurance had been minimal compared to the extensive losses. Two of the schools are in communities officially designated as poverty areas and cannot ask parents of students to carry the full financial burden. Many pupils are on scholarships. “In their hour of crisis, they have turned to Federation for assistance,” Mr. Silberman said, adding that if the Federation did not help, the schools might not be able to resume full programs for some time. Total damages have been estimated to be at least $750,000.
Mr. Silberman said the schools “were built, and have been supported, literally by the dimes and dollars of their adherents, all of whom are among the poorest members of our community.” He added this was the third time this year that the Federation had appropriated grants from emergency funds for critical community problems. Last May, the Federation gave $2,125,000, matched by an equal sum from its hospitals, to continue service to Medicaid patients when funds were cut off by New York State. At the start of the summer, the Federation gave special grants for programs for the city’s underprivileged. Mr. Silberman said that the Federation, “faced with this new situation directly affecting our own people,” sought to respond “with the same sense of responsibility” as in the other two actions. The vandalism and fires, which occurred in October and November, have been attributed to teenagers.