By Rochelle Maruch Miller
Torah Letzion was founded in 2008 with the goal of helping students religiously and personally in their yeshivas and seminaries. The organization began when the rosh yeshiva of Yeshivat Lev HaTorah approached Marc Merrill, then a sophomore at Yeshiva University, with the request that he try to fundraise to enable a current shanah aleph student in Lev HaTorah to return to the yeshiva for a second year. Inspired by this challenge, Merrill was able to raise enough money not only for this student but for two other students as well. Almost all the money raised came from college students, who had been so positively affected by having experienced their year of study in Israel, or having witnessed friends who had done so, and felt they had to support such a worthy endeavor.
Since its inception nearly five years ago, Torah Letzion has sent over 70 students to Israel, including their highest total a year ago of close to 30 students to 15 different institutions in Israel. TLZ has raised over $250,000 since its founding and has had over 1,500 people donate to the organization. A unique aspect of the organization is that the staff is composed of college students and recent college graduates who despite the demands of their hectic schedules take the time to devote their efforts to the organization. TLZ has run a series of highly successful events, which have included a baseball tournament and a night of learning at Stern College. Both of these events raised over $5,000. TLZ’s annual sefarim sale raffle, the organization’s main fundraiser, is held in conjunction with the YU sefarim sale. Always an eagerly anticipated and successful endeavor, last year’s sefarim raffle raised $38,000, and this year’s raffle is already at $25,000.
“The greatest challenge of running Torah Letzion is having to say no to applicants because we just can’t afford to send everyone,” Marc Merrill said. “Last year, as rewarding as it was to accept close to 30 students, it was devastating having to say no to over 150 students. When someone applies, we hope to be able to send them, but that just isn’t a reality, and unfortunately there are so many applicants, we must turn them down. It is the most difficult thing about running the organization.”
He adds, “Our hope is to continue to help many more men and women achieve their goals and reach their full potential. With your kind support and much-appreciated donation, you will be joining Torah Letzion in our mission of sending youth to Israel for a year of Torah study.”
To learn more about Torah Letzion, visit www.torahletzion.org or e-mail Marc Merrill at Marc@torahletzion.org. v