Vital Donor Recruitment Campaign Launched
Considering that we’re talking about the largest yeshiva in the world, these words must stop us in our tracks.
Why? How? And what can we do?
Those are the questions we – all caring Yidden, concerned about Torah in general and Mir Yerushalayim in particular – should be asking.
The short answer is that the American dollar has taken a hit, and has remained at a low for an unprecedented length of time. With a significant decrease in the value of the dollar, donations to Mir Yerushalayim are not covering as much of the yeshiva’s budget as they used to, necessitating an additional influx of funds, which are desperately needed to cover the shortfall.
This reality has been compounded by cuts made by the Israeli government to funding provided to mosdos haTorah in recent years.
All the while the Yeshiva continues to grow both in quality and quantity.
It is due to this accumulated deficit that the rosh yeshiva, Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, accompanied by Rav Binyomin Carlebach, made a special trip to the United States this past week – remaining on these shores for just six hours. Arriving at Bell Works in Holmdel, NJ, the special guests met with 150 close friends of the Mir to apprise them of the current matzav of the yeshiva.
The short-term goal? To “catch up” the yungeleit’s paychecks before Yom Tov.
The long-term goal? To ensure the Mir’s financial stability moving forward.
The Mir kollel, it was explained, comprises 75% of the yeshiva’s budget. In the past 5-6 years, the kollel budget has increased at an over 50% clip. The Mir has raised the average kollel stipend in an attempt to keep pace with the rising costs of living.
While fundraising for the yeshiva has increased significantly, the growth in the number of donors has not been commensurate with the budgetary increases.
A campaign, currently being launched, will seek to change that so that the Mir can sustain the growth of its kollel.
There remain many untapped donors, who can – and would be willing to – become part of the group of dedicated supporters of Mir Yerushalayim, but have not been connected to the yeshiva as of yet.“This expansion of the donor base,” explained one of the askanim involved in this campaign, “will not only address the current needs as we approach Yom Tov, but will go a long way toward ensuring long-term sustainability.”
At the urgent meeting in Bell Works, Rav Carlebach, in his opening remarks, said that we learn from the fact that Hakadosh Boruch Hu is described as the “Ish Milchamah” that we must emulate Him by accepting that our job is to act. “The size of the challenge,” he exhorted the crowd, “does not change our likelihood of success.”
The rosh yeshiva, Rav Eliezer Yehuda Finkel, remarked to the attendees that “supporting Torah involves its own yeitzer hara, which makes it very difficult, but also so much more significant.” He added that “we are all brothers of the yungeleit and the bnei Torah, and it’s an incredible zechus to be part of this undertaking.”
The last time that the Mir found itself in this situation was in 2013, when, due to government cuts, the yeshiva was way behind in meeting its financial commitments. At the time, world-renowned philanthropist Shlomo Yehuda Rechnitz of Los Angeles pledged $3 million to the Mir if that same amount could be raised among the public, thus netting the yeshiva $6 million in that matching initiative. During that effort, thousands of donors participated, and today, over 1,000 of those very donors are still contributing millions each year to the Mir, demonstrating the effectiveness and long-term benefit of Rechnitz’s initiative and those like it.
Working with this “donor recruitment” model, Mir Yerushalayim has launched a most unique fundraising project, with the aim of raising “new” monies to be matched by the yeshiva’s major donors with their own “new” monies.
“In order for a donation to be matched in this campaign, it needs to be a new donor or an increase in donation from prior contributions,” explained one of the campaign coordinators.
Many of the yeshiva’s donors are former talmidim, but so many are not, as the greater Jewish world recognizes the centrality of Mir Yerushalayim. Everyone knows someone who has been educated, inspired or otherwise impacted by the Mir in some way, shape or form. Its prime position and role in the Olam HaTorah is universally recognized.
At the close of the meeting with the rosh yeshiva and Rav Carlebach, many of the attendees came forward to take on leadership roles by accepting to raise a certain amount of money in this matching campaign.
“Recurring revenue is the focus in an effort to place the yeshiva on a firm financial footing going forward,” it was explained. “Community by community, we must come together to provide support to the Mir yungeleit in time for Yom Tov. The yungeleit know that the check is coming – and they count on it. We must not – and we cannot! – let them or the yeshiva down. The time is now. The Mir and its yungeleit need us, today and going forward.