To the Torah l’Tzion organization,
Yashar Koach to our alumnus, Marc Merrill, as well as to his friends, for their foresight and dedication in establishing the Torah and chesed organization, “Torah l’Tzion.” They began the organization several years ago after realizing that the year or two spent in yeshiva or seminary in Israel upon completion of high school is no longer a luxury or an option for only the most committed students. Given the challenges that our high school graduates face on the college campus and the secular workplace, the time spent in yeshiva or seminary is an absolutely essential component in the formation and strengthening of one’s Jewish identity.
Given the current economic climate, coupled with tuition that rises in pace with inflation, it is becoming more and more difficult for most families to meet their tuition obligations. And while MASA should be congratulated for their efforts, the needs-based grant that they provide typically does not cover more than 15-20% of tuition. The yeshivot and seminaries also attempt to extend scholarships and interest-free loans, but are somewhat limited in the extent that they can help. If so, what should we say to a student who desperately wants to come and learn Torah in Israel, but whose family simply cannot afford it?
The question is, can we, the Jewish people, afford to turn him down?
It is into this gap that Torah l’Tzion has entered. By offering significant scholarships to applicants with demonstrable need, strong motivation and high potential for future leadership, these students are able to come to Israel for the year. Not only do these individual students benefit–their presence benefits the entire institution, and ultimately, I am confident that their experiences will mold them into strong and committed leaders for Am Yisrael.
I want to especially praise Torah l’Tzion for offering scholarships to potential “Shana Bet” students. If coming for the first year presents financial challenges, how much more so for a student who wants to return for a second year?! With no MASA scholarship available, and with parents who typically have not budgeted for an additional year of Torah study, the obstacles are substantial. Given the fact that the Shana Bet experience is typically so powerful and has such lasting impact, I think that funding a student to come back for a second year is the best investment that one can make.
Bracha v’hatzlacha to Torah l’Tzion, and to all of its donors!
Rav Michael Cytrin
Menahel, Yeshivat Lev HaTorah