July 14, 2024
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Every Sheep Matters: Keren Yeshua’s Mission in Jewish Education

Shua, z’l, Kaminker’s son.

In the hills of the desert, Moshe Rabbeinu was tending to his sheep. One day, a single, small lamb wandered from the flock. Moshe quickly pursued it until it was reunited safely with its flock. This act of compassion and dedication, saving one seemingly insignificant lamb, was a hallmark of his kind leadership and care. Not one sheep was left behind or unattended to.

Keren Yeshua is an organization that works with families in crisis to ensure that children have lasting access to Torah education. Whether a family faces financial struggles, hardships or barriers to finding and keeping their children in the right Jewish school, Keren Yeshua’s mission is to fix this and see that no child is left without a Jewish education. They accomplish this through tuition assistance, support and guidance for families.

Through the efforts of Rabbi Kaminker, founder of Keren Yeshua, the organization is already making great strides thanks to the help of so many who have contributed so generously. Yet, their work has just begun.

Yaakov (name has been changed), a father from Baltimore, Maryland, has seen the transformative power of Keren Yeshua firsthand. He recalls the anxiety he felt when struggling to afford Jewish education for his children. “Rabbi Kaminker has been one of the nicest people I’ve ever talked to,” Yaakov shared. “He’s communicative, sincere and doesn’t over-promise anything.” Keren Yeshua stepped in after he faced difficulties with one child’s enrollment due to outstanding balances. “Their intervention was a huge source of relief and mental relaxation.”

Having attended the Talmudical Academy, Yaakov understands the importance of a robust Jewish education. He sees the difference Keren Yeshua has made in his children’s lives, from those in their first year of Beis Medrash to those in grade school. “The work Keren Yeshua is doing is extremely holy. It’s providing relief to parents and schools alike,” he said.

Rabbi Yochanan Friedman from Santa Cruz, California, noted the urgency of Keren Yeshua’s work, equating it to “hatzalot nefashot” (saving lives). In an area with scarce Jewish educational resources, Friedman witnessed a family’s desperation to give their daughter a Jewish education. Keren Yeshua stepped in to cover the difference when they couldn’t cover the tuition bills. “Their child is getting a proper Jewish education,” said Friedman, “and it’s extraordinary.”

Friedman highlights the escalating need for Jewish education in today’s world, where secular studies alone, without the balance of Jewish learning, can lead children astray. “For a long time, Jewish education was about frumkeit,” he explained. Now, due to devolved values in society,and the general educational system, “it’s literally saving children’s lives and mental health.” He emphasized Kaminker’s eagerness to help, noting, “We didn’t even have to ask twice. He’s eager to make it happen.”

Jewish schools are also on board with Keren Yeshua’s mission. The Jewish Online School (JOS) offers Jewish education options for children who live in remote places or need supplemental school. Chanie Hertzel, principal of JOS, appreciates the support and partnership with Keren Yeshua.

Similarly to Friedman, Hertzel sees the immediacy of this mission as “pikuach nefesh” (saving the soul). With over 24 years of experience in Jewish education, she has seen families overwhelmed by financial burdens. One father worked two jobs and could barely make ends meet. “Rabbi Kaminker stepped in and took the family very personally,” she said. Every precious student is deserving and valued.

Through Keren Yeshua’s support, numerous families on the brink of giving up on Jewish education are now successfully enrolled in JOS. Hertzel noted that a father of seven, who could usually pay full tuition, was embarrassed to request financial help. She reassured him and promised to see what they could do. Confidently handing his case to Keren Yeshua, she knew the family’s needs would be met with warmth and understanding. “Every single person that I give over always has such a beautiful, warm experience. We get closer as a community.”

Inspired by his son Shua, z”l, whose love for life and learning was boundless, Kaminkner was called to found Keren Yeshua. Shua’s yahrzeit is celebrated this Shabbat, the 30th of Sivan (Rosh Chodesh). “Shua loved his friends, rebbes and morahs,” recalls Kaminker. While he was sick, Shua’s rebbe would video the first grade classmates acting out the parsha every Friday, and Shua would watch them gleefully. They were a great source of comfort and joy; school was family, with bonds formed well beyond the classroom.

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (Lubavitcher Rebbe), zt”l, whose upcoming 30th yahrzeit will be commemorated on the third of Tammuz, is also a source of inspiration for Kamikner. The Rebbe and his predecessors were devoted to every Jewish child, like shepherds selflessly and lovingly caring for each sheep.

In every case, Keren Yeshua’s intervention echoes Moshe’s pursuit of one lost lamb. Weingot, Friedman and Hertzel have experienced the profound impact of Keren Yeshua’s dedication to ensuring that no child falls through the cracks or is left behind.

Each child’s education is a testament to the enduring strength of the Jewish community and the unwavering commitment to never leave a single sheep behind. Through Keren Yeshua’s devoted efforts, the spirit of Moshe’s compassion lives on, guiding and nurturing the next generation of Jewish leaders and learners.

To learn more about Keren Yeshua, and to support this vital work, please visit kerenyeshua.org or email [email protected]

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