Shuvu School Year Starts Off on Right Foot Despite Government Cuts

Dear Friends,

As we prepare for Zman Simchaseinu, it gives me great pleasure to update you about the ultimate Simcha – seeing secular children and their families returning home and becoming Shomrei Torah and Mitzvos!

The new school year at Shuvu Baruch Hashem has begun wonderfully and we are all Shepping great Nachas! We see before our very eyes children coming from families who start out as Aravos, blossoming beautifully and transforming into Esrogim!

I hope you enjoy the following article about the opening of our new school year, and my very best wishes to you and your families for a Chag Sameach!

Chaim Michoel Gutterman

Director, Shuvu-Israel

Shuvu School Year Starts Off on Right Foot Despite Government Cuts

Shuvu’s director, Rav Chaim Michoel Gutterman, was surprisingly calm on opening day.

“I’m amazed that we got this far despite the Gezeiros“, he said, “and that we were able to open the school year in a smooth way, even more so than in past years!”

Indeed, the renowned Kiruv network of schools in Eretz Yisroel opened its gates this year with close to 1,000 new students. “Vecha’asher Ye’anu oto Kein Yirbe v’chein Yifrotz”. It seems that in the difficult times the registration gets even higher and higher, and more and more families wish to send their children to Shuvu at a time when the government is making every attempt to cut into the Chareidi Mosdos’ budgets.

This past summer Shuvu had to separate emotions from actions. There were many, many renovations to be done to accommodate the many new students and new schools. Realistically, looking at Shuvu’s budget, it couldn’t be done.

But could financial strain prevent thousands of Yiddische Neshamos to grow in Torah and Mitzvos? As Shuvu’s founder Hagaon Harav Avrohom Yaakov Pam zt”l used to say, “There is no Cheshbon in the world allowing us to say ‘No’ to Jewish children who want to learn Torah”.

And thus, with trepidation, Shuvu renovated, built, prepared, and supervised – verifying that all would be absolutely perfect for the thousands of Shuvu children as they entered the school gates on opening day. The following is but a mere taste:

 

Jerusalem

The Shuvu Jerusalem Elementary School relocated one year ago to a beautiful building in Neve Yaakov. The school however lacked a yard for the children to play in. To make matters even more aggravating, the children were tantalized as an adjacent Chiloni school did have a beautiful schoolyard and the Shuvu children were left looking over the gate seeing their secular peers frolicking during their recesses.

But Hashem has His own plans and this year the Chiloni school closed down and Shuvu received their schoolyard! The Shuvu children now enjoy coming to their school not only for the time spent indoors with the warmth showered upon them, but also for the time spent outdoors.

With this, once again Rav Pam’s Nevuah is apparent.

Rav Pam zt”l was fond of quoting the Nevuah of Batei Avodah Zorah ultimately turning into places for Avodas Hashem. Now in the Shuvu Jerusalem elementary school campus one can feel the fulfillment of this Nevuah firsthand. Part of a secular school campus which taught Kfira has been turned over to a Shuvu campus, a Makom Harbotzas Torah!

Another most exciting development took place this summer in a different location in Jerusalem, with the opening of two new Shuvu schools: the Shuvu Chazon Avrohom Talmud Torah and the Shuvu Chazon Avrohom Bais Yaakov.

Shuvu has already accrued experience in taking over schools that were on the verge of closure, and this summer they were again requested to do so, this time by the Jerusalem municipality and the Ministry of Education.

The words used by the Ministry of Education in its request were that Shuvu “upgrade these schools to be like the other Shuvu schools.”

Rav Gutterman commented on the request saying: “Naturally this is a major compliment for Shuvu, that both the Ministry of Education and the Jerusalem Municipality see Shuvu as the ones who can help take over the schools. At the same time though it is of course a huge challenge.”

With Shuvu’s taking over the beautiful and spacious campus on Rashi St. in Jerusalem, Shuvu also found the room for its Jerusalem High School. Thus the high school relocated this past summer now saving the high monthly rent.

Many renovations were conducted in both the Shuvu Chazon Avrohom Talmud Torah and the Shuvu Chazon Avrohom Bais Yaakov with a large floor divided into classrooms for the high school, as well as transforming a rooftop into a school yard. A separation was also naturally necessary between the elementary schools and the high school. The renovations Baruch Hashem were completed just on time after racing the clock during the month preceding opening day.

And on opening day Shuvu was honored to host the mayor of Jerusalem Mr. Nir Barkat in its new Talmud Torah in Jerusalem. The mayor visited in the classrooms, met with the Shuvu Hanhalla, and heard their reviews of Shuvu’s general schooling and of its state of the art technology, “Waterford” for teaching English on a mother tongue level together with sciences.

Mayor Barkat thanked Shuvu for stepping up to the plate and taking over the schools, and voiced much admiration and appreciation for the network’s educational accomplishments.

Shuvu Director Rav Gutterman Presenting Mayor Barkat with a Copy of “Ahuv Al Kulam” – Rav Pam’s Biography

Beit Shemesh

The Shuvu Beit Shemesh School also enjoyed a high level visit on opening day, this time from Chareidi Knesset Members (UTJ) Rav Yaakov Asher and Rav Uri Maklev, Chinuch Atzmai Deputy Director Rav Tzvi Boimel and Beit Shemesh Councilman Rav Shmuel Greenberg.

They all entered several classes and Shepped immense Nachas from what they witnessed.

The little 1st graders already knew of the Mitzvah of Shofar and other Mitzvos and Minhagim of Rosh Hashana – and this was only the second day in Shuvu! Clearly no time was wasted in preparing the children properly for the Yomim Tovim!

Upon asking the little 4th grade girls “What Hebrew month are we in now?” and hearing not only “Elul” but rather a rattle off of the 12 months, Rav Asher exclaimed “It seems we have nothing left to teach these Shuvu children! They already know it all!”

VIPs Visiting Shuvu Beit Shemesh and MK Rav Maklev Affixing a Mezuzah on a new Classroom

The school itself also boasted a fresh, clean smell as much new furniture was acquired during the summer months. “Everything is new!” exclaimed with glee the principal Rav David Ivgi. New desks, new furniture!” Indeed Rav Ivgi worked night and day the entire summer to ensure that the students would have a most comfortable environment and atmosphere to return to.

 

Petach Tikva

The Shuvu Petach Tikva High School for Girls marked a monumental achievement this past summer with its first graduating class. This class Baruch Hashem has proven itself very successfully both academically and more importantly, in Yiddiskeit!

The girls of the school have all come a very long way, beginning out barely knowing what it meant to be a Jew, but now devoted to Torah and Mitzvos. In preparation for Yom Kippur they all went to say Slichos together in Rav Elbaz’ Yeshiva in Jerusalem and were moved tremendously by the experience! Rav Elbaz himself was the Shliach Tzibbur and during the Slichos gave a Sicha to the crowd. The girls then heard a lecture by Rebbetzin Aviva Weisman, a Ba’alas Teshuva who shared her life story, finishing at 6:00 in the morning! After a complete night of Hisorirus, the girls traveled to the Kosel for a very special Shacharis before returning home, to Petach Tikva.

As to the Shuvu Petach Tikva High School for Boys, this school relocated to the spacious “Torah U’Melacha” campus in Tel Aviv last year due to lack of space on the Petach Tikva Campus (where the elementary school and girls’ high school are situated).

This year however the Tel Aviv Municipality reneged and did not allow Shuvu to continue on in the beautiful campus it so enjoyed last year.

The school therefore relocated again, back to Petach Tikva. A 4 storey building was found in an industrial area in Petach Tikva where intensive renovations were performed over the past few weeks. Complete floors were renovated transforming them into classrooms with new floors put in and much electrical work, plumbing and other necessary adaptations to turn the building into a functional school.

This year the school has some 100 students between 7th -11th grades, and Shuvu is confident that in these new quarters the school will continue to flourish and provide a spiritual and educational home to graduates from other elementary schools of the network including Shuvu Rishon Letzion, Shuvu Lod, Shuvu Bat Yam and others.

 

Netanya

As other Shuvu schools, Shuvu Netanya is Baruch Hashem blossoming and expanding. The school currently reaches 6th grade and even just within these grades the school had to add classrooms to accommodate the new students. The school very quickly is reaching 3 classes in each grade!

Next year Be’ezras Hashem Shuvu plans to open a junior high school in Netanya, and ultimately a high school too. The mayor promised the network a building for this purpose for the year 2014-2015, but cannot give it yet due to the upcoming mayoral elections.

 

Natzrat Illit

Among the 7 new high schools Shuvu opened last year were the Natzrat Illit High School for Boys and the Natzrat Illit High School for Girls.

These schools serve both Shuvu graduates and also graduates of other local schools who until then had nowhere to continue on to, as sadly there is no other frum high school today in the entire city of Natzrat Illit!

Over the course of last year Shuvu performed extensive renovations on a new, 3rd level of the school to house the boys’ Junior High and High Schools. It was of course imperative to create a separation between the elementary school and the high school for the children to sense with satisfaction their advancing into high school.

The school is situated in the Rasko neighborhood in the city of Natzrat Illit, with a large percentage of Russians. Sadly, the Russian Shuvu children come from the poorest and least privileged in the city. The Shuvu Natzrat Illit School, as the other Shuvu schools, is instrumental in giving the children hope and tools for a fruitful future within Israeli society.

 

Be’er Yaakov

The Shuvu Be’er Yaakov High School for Girls was also one of the new high schools opened last year, and serves as a continuation for graduates of the Shuvu elementary schools in Rishon Letzion, Lod and Rechovot.

Shuvu has usage of the bottom floor of the building while the Seminar uses the upper floors. Both schools share the sports room on the second floor which was renovated this past summer by Shuvu. A beautiful computer room was added this year as well. In addition, an entire new wing was added by Shuvu over the past few weeks, adding 3 new classrooms to accommodate the new students.

New Computer Room and New Renovated Wing in Shuvu Be’er Yaakov

The school started out last year with one 9th grade class, and now has both a 9th and a 10th grade. In 2 more years IY”H the school should already reach 12th grade.

During the Aseres Yimei Teshuva the school took the girls to the beach to say Tashlich which proved to be a most meaningful experience for all!

On Sunday morning of Chol Hamoed Succos Be’ezras Hashem the Shuvu Be’er Yaakov School will hold a Simchas Bais Hashoeva where they will celebrate the dedication of the school by Mrs. Rika Knopf and family, in memory of her husband, R’ Mordche Yosef Knopf zt”l, Shuvu’s former chairman. Anyone who is in Israel at the time is encouraged to attend and Shep Nachas!

 

 

Hadera

Shuvu this year is delighted and excited to announce the opening of its first high school in the city of Hadera!

The Shuvu Hadera High School opened this year on the campus of Rabbi Benzion Nordman’s “Mada’im VeYahadut” school in the upper-class Nissan neighborhood in Hadera. Nine years after Rabbi Nordman had created his school to provide Yiddishkeit for secular Israeli students, its junior high was taken under Shuvu’s capable wing this year, together with the opening of a new Shuvu high school.

This school will cater to both boy and girl graduates of the Shuvu elementary school in Hadera, as well as graduates of the “Mada’im VeYahadut” elementary school.

Indeed, it has become an expertise of Shuvu to take over schools about to close down.

This first year the Shuvu Hadera Junior High School for Boys (7th-8th grades) has 22 students, and the Shuvu Junior High School and High School for Girls has 60 students, between 7th-10th grades. Next year IY”H the boys’ school will add on 9th grade and the girls’ school will add on 11th grade ultimately leading to full high schools in both.

Shuvu Hadera High School for Girls

Renovations here too were necessary to create a separate Shuvu unit within the “Mada’im V’Yahadut”.

Besides the Limudei Kodesh, this school also provides a much more intense sciences program than the standard in Israel, with more than half of the weekly 43 hours being used for sciences!

Shuvu’s elementary school in Hadera was honored to host the Mayor of the city, Mr. Chaim Avitan on opening day. The Mayor toured the school and put up a Mezuzah on a new classroom.

Mr. Avitan is a true friend of Shuvu who greatly appreciates the superior education his students are being provided by Shuvu.

 

Rishon Letzion

Shuvu has a new challenge with its creation this year of the Shuvu Rishon Letzion High School for Boys. Unlike the other Shuvu schools catered to Russian and Israeli students lacking Jewish knowledge, this school is for already frum boys, who are at risk. The boys come from religious homes (not Chareidi) and complex ones where for instance, one parent is frum and the other not. They have a higher knowledge of Yiddishkeit than the standard Shuvu high school boy (who comes from a completely secular home), both from home and from previous schools including Chinuch Atzmai Mosdos.

The idea for this school came about just a mere 3 months ago by Rabbi Shraga Alper, who has great experience in dealing with these types of boys. Until now his involvement included arranging afternoon activities, but this year decided to open a high school for these boys as they were not ready for an ordinary Yeshiva. The new high school will offer a full high school diploma, majoring in computer science, while being more Yeshivish than the classic Shuvu, as these boys are already frum.

Needing a strong backing, Rav Alper approached Shuvu to run the new school, and after consulting Gedolei Yisroel, Shuvu took it upon themselves as a new Shlichus.

The school opened up this year with 30 students who are in 9th grade. Next year the school will have a 10th grade, and so on until reaching a full high school with 12th grade in 3 years.

The school is located in the western side of the city in a luxurious neighborhood, in a privately rented facility which serves 2 Kollels. The boys are thus exposed to the Avreichim in the building and the learning atmosphere. The building itself is located at a comfortable distance from the residential buildings, disconnecting the boys from their surroundings, and allowing the boys to run around outside during recesses without disturbing neighbors.

To allow the opening of the school year Shuvu provided furniture (chairs and desks) for two classrooms, and also a games room equipped with a pool table, computer games and an air-hockey table where the boys enjoy themselves in a wholesome environment during recesses.

A Gemorah Shiur in the New Shuvu Rishon Letzion High School for Boys

A brand new computer room was erected by Shuvu in the building where the boys learn facing computer screens and also perform on hand assembling of computers with used parts.

As Rabbi Alper stated “It’s scary to think where these boys would end up had it not been for this new Shuvu high school. Now Baruch Hashem we see a bright future for them.”


Kindergartens Update

Baruch Hashem despite fears of having to close down many of the Shuvu kindergartens, Shuvu has even opened up 3 new kindergartens!

In Hadera a new beautiful 3rd kindergarten has been added. Thus, over the past 3 years the number of children attending the kindergartens has skyrocketed from 14 to 76!

In Rechovot too a new building is being rented from the municipality allowing a second kindergarten to open and raising the number of students to double, from 26 to 53.

Likewise, in the northern city of Akko too a second kindergarten has been opened.

In the city of Bat Yam Shuvu has operated 2 preschool classes located in rented facilities adjacent to the school, which have both grown beautifully. This year 28 children are registered for the nursery and 36 children for the kindergarten.

These preschools have an excellent name within the city of Bat Yam. So much so, that parents have been banging on Shuvu’s doors requesting that they open yet a 3rd kindergarten to allow their children too to attend. Sadly, Shuvu was unable to accommodate the many children and parents requesting and had to turn them down simply due to lack of space.

Shuvu therefore renovated the school building extensively, adding two large rooms as well as bathrooms to be used for the preschools. Besides saving the monthly rent, they will IY”H have much more spacious accommodations, and will also be able to add a third classroom in the future and open the third preschool.

Renovated Shuvu Bat Yam Kindergartens

The Shuvu kindergartens serve as a springboard for the Shuvu elementary schools’ registration. Just as an example, in Shuvu Bat Yam a whopping 85% of the 1st graders started out in the Shuvu kindergarten. Thus, enlarging the kindergartens and accommodating more children undoubtedly leads to a significant increase in the schools’ registrations.

In addition, with the take-over of the Chazon Avrohom Talmud Torah and Bais Yaakov, Shuvu now has 5 more kindergartens under its belt – 3 for girls and 2 for boys.


Kiruv Directors (School Rabbis) Update

Our Kiruv Directors have been very busy over the past few weeks having prepared our students for the Yomim Tovim. Each School Kiruv Director brought in sample Shofars to show the students what constitutes a Kosher Shofar and how to blow KaHalacha, each performed Kapparos with the students (some even with chickens!), and built model Succos teaching the children the Halachos as they went.

In addition, many of the Rabbis took their schools on “Siyurei Slichot”; a trip to Jerusalem during the nighttime saying Slichos! The above description of what transpired in the Shuvu Petach Tikva High School for Girls is but one example!

Several Kiruv Directors arranged “Siyurei Slichot” for the parents as well, such as Rav Betzalel Ordman from Shuvu Hadera who had 50 people (25 couples) join him for an “all-nighter” in Jerusalem!

Several Simchas Bais Hashoevas are scheduled for the week of Succos which will allow the children to experience true Simchas Chag!

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The Shuvu staff most certainly did not sit back idly this past summer, with renovations performed in yet more and more locations.

Rav Gutterman summed up his feelings saying “We have had tremendous Siyata Dishmaya in beginning the new school year flawlessly.

Having said that, I’m extremely worried as the Gezeiros that came upon us will affect our being able to give the Chinuch we want to give the children and their families. I hope that “Revach Vehatazla Yaamod LaYehudim Mimakom Acher…”

At a Shuvu Summer Parlor Meeting at Rabbi Gedalaih Weinberger’s home, Rav Pam zt”l once delivered one of his famous speeches where he said that we must say “yes” to a new Shuvu project. Being confronted at the time as to where could the funding possibly come from, the Rosh Yeshiva smiled as he looked around the packed room of Shuvu supporters.

“I don’t know myself”, he said, “but don’t be surprised if it’ll come from you!”

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