Everyday, a team of 200 adults sets out to spark the curiosity of nearly 1000 TanenbaumCHAT students, help them build a strong sense of character, inspire them to connect to their Jewish roots and the Jewish community globally and in Israel, and challenge them to become productive citizens who use their talents and skills to make a contribution to others.
The profound impact that a TanenbaumCHAT education has on our children is as varied as the number of students in the school. A few weeks ago, I bumped into Keren (Shilling) Green, Class of ’04, at a shiva house. She could not help but share with me the way her TanenbaumCHAT experience continues to shape her life. She said:
“My time at CHAT transformed me, not only as a young professional leader in the Jewish community, but in all aspects of my life. My closest friends are my high school girls; I keep in touch with my teachers via social media; and I love looking through the ‘mazel tov’ section of the CHATter to keep up to date with my high-achieving classmates. But most importantly, as I now work at Buffalo Jewish Federation organizing events and working with various families in the community, I realize that my job is no different than my role as chairperson of Religious Affairs Committee or director of the CHAT school play. CHAT taught me leadership, to believe in myself, and to be proud of my Jewish upbringing by inspiring me to put my children through day school and hopefully give them a fraction of the incredible opportunities I received in my four years of high school.”
Each time a current or former student expresses appreciation for a lesson taught, an experience provided, or a relationship created at TanenbaumCHAT, I realize how priceless it is what we offer. Much of what we do we are able to do because of tuition revenue. However, a good portion of the extras come from generous parents who not only fulfill their tuition obligation but who also feel an expanded sense of responsibility beyond their own child.
I can list many of those “extras,” but one of them is our experiential shlichim program. The impact that Shlomi and Ya’ara have had on our children is captured well by this comment by one of our student leaders who said:
..this program has played a very important role in strengthening my connection to Israel…. Ya’ara has challenged me to think deeply about the reasons that Israel is important in my life…in order to help other TanenbaumCHAT students feel connected to Israel. I am very grateful to Ya’ara for her guidance and her thoughtful approach to Israel engagement.
On an annual basis, we turn to our parents, grandparents, and community members to raise the funds necessary to continue to make this transformative education a birthright for as many Jewish children possible. Our goal is $850,000 this year. We are already halfway there.
I ask you to participate at whatever level you can, and I thank you in advance for strengthening TanenbaumCHAT and the future of our Jewish community.