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Heschel announces $75 million in gifts

A few years back, when I was at the Forward, we were looking for an angle to cover Ronald Stanton’s $100 million gift to Yeshiva University (the size of the gift would have been angle enough, had Y.U. not understandably decided to give an exclusive to The New York Times). What we came up with was the fact that in addition to his support of the flagship institution of Modern Orthodoxy, Stanon was also a major backer of Manhattan’s Heschel School, a pluralistic Jewish day school.

Y.U. and Stanton weren’t interested.

Well, the angle reemerges.

From The New York Jewish Week:

… This week Manhattan’s Heschel School, a pluralistic Jewish day school, announced new gifts totaling $75 million, part of a $100 million campaign to expand its student population and relocate its elementary and middle schools. …

Heschel’s $100 million One Campus Campaign underwrites the cost of building a 135,000 square foot K-8 building adjacent to its high school on West End and 61st Street. The single campus will accommodate more than 1,000 students.

A lead gift of $33 million comes courtesy of Ronald P. Stanton, a Heschel parent and chairman of Transammonia, Inc., a company that trades, distributes and transports fertilizers, ammonia, liquefied petroleum gases, petrochemicals, and crude oil. Stanton’s  $100 million to Yeshiva University in 2006 was touted as the “largest single gift ever in North America in support of Jewish education and Jewish life.”

“I am pleased that Heschel can now proceed with its much needed expansion,” Stanton told The Jewish Week. “The additions and improvements to the school’s physical plant will enhance the education Heschel provides to our children, which is my goal in making this gift. I hope that my pledge will inspire others to support the school as this project moves ahead.”

Eight other philanthropists, including trustees of the school, and parents and grandparents of current students and alumni, committed $42 million.

When asked why Heschel chose to launch an expansion campaign in this tough economic climate, Head of School Roanna Shorofsky explained that the expansion plan has been 10 years in the making.

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