At Tarbut V’Torah Community Day School, donors have stepped in to fill the gap carved by the Great Recession. The Orange County Jewish community has banded together to protect the Jewish future as entrusted to what is the fifth largest Jewish community day school in the nation.
The goal is simple: keep the doors open to everyone. To do this, TVT awards over $3,000,000 in need-based financial aid, administered confidentially through a blind process, ensuring that each award is given without bias. This amounts to approximately one-fourth of the school’s overall budget.
“Everyone benefits from this process,” Rabbi Seth Linfield, TVT’s Head of School, noted proudly. “We are carrying forward our founders’ dedication to a socially inclusive and economically diverse student body. These commitments elevate the learning experiences of the entire TVT community.”
“As teachers, we’ve always considered our students to be an extended part of the family,” noted veteran teacher, Mrs. Sandy Bruss. Bruss, who takes joy in attending senior graduation, when many of her past students – having attended TVT for all thirteen grades – march proudly across the podium, added, “There’s a sense here that we are all responsible for these students, we all dote on them; cheering their successes, mitigating their losses. Eventually you become so much a part of each other’s lives that the idea of tearing people away because their financial situation has changed would be unbearable.”
Among other major donors, Eric and Sheila Samson, grandparents of TVT students David (Class of 2007), Jessica (Class of 2010) and Leora (Grade 10), certainly agree. When the scope and effects of the economic downturn became apparent, the Samsons felt compelled to step forward, founding the Samson G’mi’lat Chesed (Kindness) Fund, to help make a TVT education financially accessible to more Jewish students in light of the growing need for financial aid.
In the words of Mr. Samson, “This fund is not a free ride. It is a support for those of sincere good will who need assistance.” More than 300 students receive some form of financial aid. Mrs. Samson added, “Two of the principal historic strengths of the Jewish people have been our emphasis on education and our communal orientation toward helping those in need. Through the Samson Kindness Fund, we are gratefully able to achieve both of these lofty goals.”
Irving Gelman, who founded TVT with thirty-seven students in 1991, has found kindred spirits with the Samsons: “We have seen the demand for financial aid rise by nearly a third this year alone. For me, the purpose of TVT is to perpetuate the Jewish people as a light to the nations. I am delighted the Samsons and the community have adopted this vision.”
Without philanthropic support, the opportunities and programs at Tarbut V’Torah simply would not exist. As is the case for all Jewish schools and independent schools nationwide, tuition alone does not cover the full cost of educating a child. Everyone from the board to the custodial staff pitches in for the kids.
Naturally, the TVT gala for 2012 honors Eric and Sheila Samson. “What they are doing for this community, the example they are setting, is phenomenal,” said Reega Neutel, chair of TVT’s annual gala committee. “Though they would prefer to perform their mitzvah anonymously, we felt that it did the community a disservice to withhold such inspiration. As a result, this year’s gala will be special – and the entire community is invited to attend.”
“We are transforming our future,” said Rabbi Linfield. “From our perspective, financial aid at TVT is an investment in the Jewish future, plain and simple.”
TVT’s annual benefit will be held Sunday, June 3, 2012, at the St. Regis Monarch Beach. More information can be found online at http://www.tvtgala.myevent.com or by calling (949) 509-9500 ext. 1136.