(lubavitch.com) Recipients of a Chabad educational grant program that will open new preschools in the U.S. met Wednesday with Mr. David Slager, the philanthropist underwriting the $5 million preschool initiative by the Machne Israel Development Fund.
The meeting, at Chabad of the Upper West Side, followed a two-day educators’ conference coordinated by The Merkos Chinuch Office. Rabbi Nochem Kaplan chair of the MIDF education committee organized the first in a series of educational seminars sponsored by the Slager initiative, together with Early Childhood Initiative advisory board members Mrs. Batya Lisker, Mrs. Perel Stroh and Mrs. Devorah Krasnianski.
Established in April, the MIDF Early Childhood Initiative has so far disbursed funding to eighteen Chabad centers across the United States, among them some of which will be opening new preschools, others that will expand existing preschools with additional classes that will allow for greater enrollment.
“The day we received the phone call informing us we were approved for a grant was a major milestone in our work. Now Jewish children in our area who would otherwise be in non-Jewish preschools will have an opportunity to learn and experience authentic Judaism,” said Elana Kornfeld of Burbank, CA, speaking at the luncheon.
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of the educational and social services divisions of Chabad-Lubavitch, offered his appreciation for Mr. David and Lara Slager, who have made Jewish education their passion.
Speaking of his own experience, Mr. Slager told the guests that the excitement for yiddishkeit that he and his wife saw when his own children attended the Chabad Early Learning Center at Chabad of the Upper West Side, “lit-up his whole family.”
“This will hopefully be replicated in thousands of Jewish homes.”
Rabbi Krinsky recalled the Rebbe’s focus on Jewish children, and the emphasis he placed on providing them with a rich and joyful early childhood Jewish experience. He pointed to the numerous occasions the Rebbe used to meet, address and bless children. “This interaction is unique to a world leader.”
Among the grant recipients are: Shmuel and Elana Kornfeld in Burbank and Mendel and Rivkah Cunin in Los Angeles, CA; Avraham and Hindy Mintz in Lone Tree and Dovid and Doba Mintz in Vail, CO; Moshe and Rivkah Denburg in Boca Raton, Hershy and Chanie Bronstein in Coral Springs, Mendy and Nechama Dina Tennenhaus in Hallandale, Alexander and Chani Kaller in Sunny Isles, Yisroel and Leah Spalter in Weston, FL; Yaakov and Devorah Halperin in Allentown, PA; Boruch Sholom and Frumy Labkowski in Frederick, MD; Chaim and Chavie Bruk in Bozeman, MT; Yisroel and Chani Cotlar in Cary, NC; Levi and Goldie Azimov in North Brunswick, NJ; Asher and Dina Hect in South Padre Island and Chaim and Rivkie Block in San Antonio, TX; Yisroel and Chaya Sara Hahn in Spokane, and Shmulik and Tzivie Greenberg in Vancouver, WA.
The event was hosted by Rabbi Shlomo Kugel, executive director of Chabad of the West Side, and his colleagues, Rabbi Meir Ossey, associate director, and Rabbi Yisroel Fried, program director.
Also participating at the luncheon from the Machne Israel Development Fund was Rabbi Shmaya Krinsky, co-director of the Machne Israel Development Fund, and Rabbi Yosef B. Friedman. Rabbi Friedman presented Mr. Slager with The Educator’s Privilege, a newly released collection of insights by the Rebbe on the privileges of engaging in the educational calling.