A severe cutback in government transportation subsidies that is threatening the ability of nearly 20,000 religious children from economically challenged families across Eretz Yisroel to reach their Chinuch Atzmai schools, has spurred Gedolei Yisroel to launch an Emergency Transportation Fund Campaign in order to plug the deficit and be able to pay the salaries of the drivers who bring the children to school throughout the year.
The renowned Chinuch Atzmai school system, which was founded in 1953 by the gedolim of the previous generation led by Rav Aharon Kotler, Z’TL and Rav Moshe Feinstein, Z’TL, has mushroomed into one of the Holy Land’s premier Orthodox educational systems, serving 30,000 children from all walks of life in major cities and towns across Eretz Yisroel. Through the merit of a Chinuch Atzmai education, these youngsters have graduated to become productive members of their respected communities from askanim and rabbonim to housewives and teachers etc.
With 20,000 children living in Eretz Yisroel’s periphery, where regular school bus service is non-existent and private transportation impossible due to economic short-comings within almost all of the children’s families, Chinuch Atzmai has been providing regular school bus and mini-bus services to 269 communities across the country. Ahead of the 5765 school year, the Ministry of Education will only be funding half of Chinuch Atzmai’s annual transportation budget, which exceeds $17 million dollars a year. In order for Chinuch Atzmai to pay the hundreds of drivers for their services, the Emergency Transportation Fund campaign is seeking a minimum of $35 million dollars for the 5765 school year and beyond.
Without these vital funds, there is a real possibility that a significant number of children will be left without access to transportation, forcing their economically challenged parents to consider having them drop out of the Chinuch Atzmai system in favor of less ‘frum’ educational environment.
Recognizing the plight of these parents, who wish for their children to be educated within the Chinuch Aztmai framework, the gedolim, including Rav Chaim Kanievsky, Shlita and Rav Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, Shlita, have issued a “Kol Koreh” to Klal Yisroel to partake in the Emergency Transportation Fund campaign.
The American rabbinical community, led by the Novominsker Rebbe, Rav Aharon Feldman, Shlita, Rav Shumel Kaminetsky, Shlita and Rav Yisroel Belsky, Shlita are spear-heading the efforts to raise awareness and funding for the emergency campaign, via an event on Monday evening in Flatbush, Brooklyn.