Jewish schools celebrate $3.75m donation from Christian friends

ORT, a network of Jewish schools in the former Soviet Union, has praised the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) for securing a brighter future thanks to a $3.75 million donation.

This "fantastic support" is the result of the IFCJ's staggering $45 million commitment to the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) over the next three years which has enabled JAFI to commit $3.75million to ORT's educational projects in the CIS and Baltic States over the same period of time.

The funds will enable ORT to provide competitive salaries for teachers as well as advanced training options, nutritious meals for students and dedicated transport for the widely dispersed Jewish community.

The IFCJ is also directly investing more than $240,000 this year in ORT projects in India which provide pre-Aliyah training to the Bnei Menashe, a community of 10,000 people who claim descent from Menashe, one of the 10 Lost Tribes of Israel. The training will give them the skills to assimilate into Israel's modern urban workforce and society.

"The Fellowship has been pleased to contribute millions of dollars in support to ORT training and school programmes over the last few years. Thanks to our new relationship with the Jewish Agency, we can now do so much more," said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, IFCJ Founder and President, whose organisation is funded primarily by American Christians who want to demonstrate their support for the State of Israel and Jewish communities across the globe.

Vladimir Dribinskiy, Head of London-based World ORT's Coordination Department, said, "This is absolutely wonderful news. This money will ensure that our educational network in the CIS and Baltic States, which had suffered from four years of budget cuts, will enjoy stability over the medium term."

ORT India Director Benjamin Isaac said he was thrilled with the IFCJ's support: "The Bnei Menashe are very serious and devout Jews and they are very serious about making aliyah because of their love for the religion. But they face many obstacles because they are a small religious minority."