Briefs: Irvine school receives $10 million gift, Orthodox schools get federal funding

Irvine School Receives $10 Million Gift

Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School (TVT) in Irvine received a $10 million gift from an anonymous donor to be used for student scholarships, beginning this fall.

The grant, to be paid at the rate of $1 million a year, is available to new and returning students at Orange County’s only independent K-12 Jewish day school.

Administrators hope the funds will allow TVT to reach its 1,000-student capacity, according to Derek Gavshon, acting head of school. Last year, 603 students attended the National Blue Ribbon school.

“We will be doing a lot of campaigning this year so that finances won’t be an impediment to a Jewish education,” he said.

About 25 percent of TVT’s 377 families receive financial aid, previously capped at half of the annual tuition of $14,000 to $17,000. Aid was largely based on recommendations by the National Association of Independent Schools, which assesses needs of families in more than 2,400 private schools nationwide. The donor has requested that TVT remove its aid cap so that more families can afford to send their children to the school.

That will not only attract new students to the 21.5-acre campus but will also provide relief for current families whose economic status has changed, Gavshon said.

While most families will be expected to pay some part of the tuition, Gavshon said exceptions might be made on a case-by-case basis.

—- Lisa Armony, Contributing Writer

Orthodox Schools Get Federal Funding

Several Orthodox Jewish day schools in Houston will receive $70,000 in federal funding. The schools were notified of the funding last week, according to a statement from the Texas chapter of Agudath Israel of America.

The ultra Orthodox umbrella group, in partnership with other faith groups in Houston, successfully lobbied the school board for an expansion of federal support. The funds are part of a total of $610,000 in federal dollars allocated to private educational institutions. They can be used for supplies, textbooks and staffing expenses for remedial programs, the statement said.

“This allocation provides vital funding for our schools and demonstrates how important entitlement funds are to the educational success of our children,” said Rabbi Yehiel Kalish, Agudah’s national director of government affairs. “We look forward to the day when funding comes to our families in the form of school vouchers — giving parents a real choice when it comes to the education of their children.”

— Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Teens Win $36,000 Tikkun Olam Grants

Two Los Angeles teens were among five young Californians to receive $36,000 grants in the second annual Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards.

Shelby Layne, 17, and Fred Scarf, 18, will receive their awards at a September ceremony hosted by the Helen Diller Family Foundation. Layne of Pacific Palisades and Scarf of Sherman Oaks will be able to use the prize money to further fund their tikkun olam (repair the world) projects or for college educations.

Layne, an incoming high school senior at Harvard-Westlake, was nominated by Jewish World Watch (JWW) for her efforts in raising money and awareness about the four-year genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. Her project, Live by Give, specifically addresses the danger of rape and violence women and girls face when leaving their camps to collect firewood.

JWW’s project of purchasing solar cookers so that women don’t need firewood motivated Layne.

“When I heard it was just $30 to save and unite a family — that’s what really spoke to me,” Layne said in a recent phone interview. “I had always felt I wanted to give back to causes such as this … it felt like something really tangible.”

Layne began making jewelry and also collecting pieces from local donors to sell, giving the proceeds to the Solar Cooker Project. She’s so far collected $32,000, providing solar cookers to over 1,050 families. Layne plans to use her prize money to further humanitarian efforts in Darfur.

Scarf’s project also resonates deep in the community. After his best friend, Shiri, died at 16 from osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, Scarf founded the Shiri Foundation, an organization dedicated to researching and finding a cure for the disease.

It was at Shiri’s funeral that Scarf realized just how much he wanted to prevent anyone else from going through the loss he did. “I was asked to be the first speaker…. I had never been to a funeral before,” Scarf said in a phone interview. “I felt these emotions. I just can’t describe it. I just knew I never wanted to feel that again; I knew I had to do something.”

Now with $20,000 raised and annual proms for kids who may miss their own due to an illness, The Shiri Foundation has touched the lives of many. Still, osteosarcoma remains somewhat under the radar.

“There has been progress,” noted Scarf, who graduated Birmingham High School in June and will be attending UC Berkeley. He will donate his prize money to the Shiri Foundation.

— Laura Donney, Contributing Writer

Israeli Counselors Infuse Spirit Into Camps

Along with the peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches, the pita-hummus-falafel combination is emerging as a new lunch favorite at L.A. Jewish summer camps. The culinary quirk is a result of the influx of Israeli counselors into the Jewish American summer camp community.

This summer, 11 Southern California overnight and day camps hosted 69 Israeli shlichim (emissaries) as part of a program funded by the Jewish Agency. The Israelis served in traditional counselor and specialist roles in sports, swimming, dancing, music and art.

“They bring a love for Israel that couldn’t be matched by any American,” said Bennet Cross, a counselor at Camp JCA Shalom in Malibu. “They not only cover their faces in blue-and-white paint on Israel Day, teach uniquely Israeli games and share their personal experiences living in the Jewish homeland, but they also find a unique and powerful way to build and strengthen a tangible connection for these campers to Israel.”

This summer, the Jewish Agency Summer Shlichim Program sent 1,500 Israeli young adults into approximately 200 Jewish camps across North America. The figure represents a steady annual increase and a number that has doubled since 2000.

“We are excited that the program has grown so large and will impact tens of thousands of young Jews in North America, strengthening their link to Israel, and will also impact thousands of young Israelis who will gain a better understanding of the Jewish community in North America after spending a summer here,” said Ariella Feldman, director of the Jewish Agency Summer Shlichim Program.

— Marion Ashley Said, Contributing Writer