At 12:22 pm on June 21, the crowd at Yeshiva Darchei Torah erupted in cheers and singing, as a unique fundraising campaign surpassed what had seemed to some an improbable goal: raising $1,600,000 for a faculty simcha fund.
In just 24 hours, Darchei Torah, a boys’ school in Far Rockaway with 2,100 students from pre-K to post-high school Beis Medrash, raised $1,700,000 for a new fund to assist its rabbeim and morahs in defraying the costs involved in making such life-cycle events as a wedding or bar mitzvah. The expenses of even a simple simcha can be daunting.
Rabbi Yaakov Bender, Darchei Torah’s rosh ha’yeshiva, has long advocated for improved compensation for yeshiva educators everywhere. The men and women entrusted with the most sacred task in Jewish communal life — educating the next generation — should, at a minimum, be granted the peace of mind that comes with a living wage, enabling them to fully focus all of their energies on the needs of their students, he has said.
Although he long aspired to have the school provide its 270 faculty members with financial assistance for simchos, “when you have a limited budget the first things that fall away are the extras.”
Brainstorming with his executive staff and the yeshiva’s board of directors, Rabbi Bender settled on the goal of establishing a $1.6 million fundraising drive specifically for this purpose, utilizing the Charidy platform.
Every dollar raised from the public during the 24-hour period would be matched 3-to-1 by generous benefactors who would commit to the cause before the campaign went live, thus multiplying the impact of each individual donation. Under Charidy’s rules, the campaign had to be all-or-nothing — if the goal was not be reached within 24 hours, all donations would be refunded.