MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
Individual Leo Baeck supporters
It is our goal at Leo Baeck to offer hot, nutritious meals to all children who come to our schools and enrichment programs:
The Leo Baeck Elementary School provides full scholarships for 10 disadvantaged students per year, including hot lunches.
The YEDA School in Kiryat Bialik was initiated by the Leo Baeck Education Center to show that demography does not define destiny for children from low-income backgrounds. Inspired by the KIPP model in the United States, The Yeda School enables disadvantaged children to reach their full potential by delivering an enhanced educational experience which includes an extended school day. Out of a total student body of 80 in 2014-2015, 22 YEDA students are children of Ethiopian immigrants, 30 have parents from the former Soviet Union (most are from Caucasus), and the remaining are 28 native Israeli students from middle and low socio-economic backgrounds and families in distress. Hot lunches and snacks (and breakfast as needed) are provided to the children on a daily basis.
Almost 300 students at the Leo Baeck Middle School (a public school program with a shorter day) live below the poverty line. Many come to school hungry on a daily basis. Not only are these children unable to concentrate in class, they are also aggressive towards their classmates and their teachers. In the past, several were found stealing food from other children’s schoolbags. The neediest students are now provided with a morning sandwich six days a week. In addition, the 80 children a week who remain at school for afternoon and evening enrichment activities are given a sandwich to eat.
The Leo Baeck High School provides meal vouchers for 80 students per year.
In addition to sandwiches for hungry children, the social work staff at Leo Baeck Elementary School and Middle School provides food baskets to approximately 30 hungry families on a monthly basis. Each basket contains flour, sugar, eggs, a container of white cheese, several cans of tuna fish, a large box of breakfast cereal, several containers of powdered milk, bread, a jar of jam, a bottle of cooking oil, canned fruits and vegetables, and two chickens.
Leo Baeck’s After School Learning Centers (for disadvantaged Jewish and Arab elementary school children) provide hot lunches for all participating children and youth. All of the children come from financially and emotionally distressed families. Many of these children have mentally ill mothers, fathers who are in jail for drugs or theft and a large number of them live with elderly grandparents. The majority of the children are disruptive in their school classrooms, violent towards their classmates and/or apathetic about their studies. The goal of these Afterschool Learning Centers is to improve the children’s academic performance, bolster their self-confidence and lead them on the road to success. The Centers are open four days a week from 1:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. throughout the school year. All participants in the program receive a hot lunch, which for many is their only meal of the day. After lunch they receive extra lessons in math, Hebrew and English, help with their homework, and an assortment of extra-curricular activities including sports, art, weekly visits to the Leo Baeck swimming pool and field trips.
Beit Ligdol Tov (“The House of Growing Well”), one of Leo Baeck’s eight outreach/satellite centers, is an early childhood development and enrichment center for 600 children and their parents. Beit Ligdol Tov serves the City of Haifa’s low-income immigrants from Ethiopia and the Former Soviet Union, as well as native Israelis in distress. The vast majority of Beit Ligdol Tov’s adult participants are single mothers and/or divorced parents. Many have more than the average number of young children in the home and quite a few are from abusive home environments. In nearly all cases, only one parent is working or both parents are unemployed. On a daily basis, the preschool children are provided with a healthy, light meal.
Leo Baeck’s Arab-Jewish Summer Camp brings together up to 100 Arab and Jewish 6-11 year-old children each summer for a variety of shared activities, including arts & crafts, theater, sports, music, fields trips and programs that promote cross-cultural understanding. There are many underprivileged children that participate in this highly subsidized program, which provides breakfast, lunch, and snacks for all campers.
For the past 6 years, the Leo Baeck – Shefaram Partnership has been running with great success, building long lasting ties with the Muslim, Christian and Druze youth in Shefaram, an Arab town not far from Haifa. A group of 50 high school students meets six times a year, accompanied by educators from Leo Baeck and the participating schools in Shefaram. A part of every meeting is to conduct a Food Drive with products collected through donations from both communities and “Keren Bekavod” (The Dignity Fund). The youngsters then pack the products and distribute them to needy families in both Shefaram and Haifa.