Back to School Season in the FSU

See this smiling girl? She’s a Jewish student at a Russian elementary school and this photo was taken on her first day of school. Of course Back to School season is always a little bittersweet. You’re happy to see those school chums that you hadn’t seen all summer. However, gone is the freedom one enjoyed from schoolwork and bossy teachers one enjoyed during the break. In much of the Former Soviet Union, there is an additional level of anxiety caused by grinding poverty which prevents many parents from being able to afford basic school supplies for their children. Luckily, a partnership between the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) and the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee has stepped up to save the day. They have donated thousands of Back to School Supply Packages to needy Jewish students all across the Former Soviet Union – which might explain why this girl is smiling. The packages include markers, pens, erasers, pencils, a ruler, notebooks, folders, a pencil case etc. all your back to school needs in one convenient package.

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, the head of the IFCJ is a bit of a controversial character. Many are concerned about the implications of his cozying up to evangelical Christians, who undoubtedly support Israel, yet share little else in common with most secular North American Jews. There was also this whole thing with the Jewish Agency and all the usual kerfuffle one might expect in the world of Politics and Philanthropy. But every time I visit Jerusalem and use the central bus station, my bodily integrity is protected by an x-ray machine donated by the IFCJ. Numerous economically disadvantaged people are fed at Israeli soup kitchens supported by the IFCJ and this little girl is smiling because of Rabbi Eckstein’s work. So I figure, screw it. That’s good enough for me.


  1. jc.

    9/11/2008 at 2:16 pm

    Evangelical christians do not support jews or Israel, they see both as necessary cannon fodder for the return of christ when they will be saved and all jews will toast in hell where they belong. I´m sure that lebanese kids are also enjoying the back to school kits that Hammas has provided for them.

  2. ck

    9/11/2008 at 2:47 pm

    Except Hamas isn’t feeding the hungry of Jerusalem or providing the city with expensive metal detectors. If evangelicals want to give us money till the day Jesus returns, well, when he gets here we can revisit the issue.

  3. Ben

    9/11/2008 at 3:39 pm

    @ck: Even if the Evangelical messenger before Jesus turns out to be the apostle Palin???

    Careful what you wish for.

  4. ck

    9/11/2008 at 4:22 pm

    Uh… I don’t even know what to say in response to that except if Palin can walk on water, turn water into wine, turn the other cheek, ride into Jerusalem on a white ass and show me her unbroken hymen (no cheating!) then maybe I will revisit the issue.

  5. Alex

    9/11/2008 at 4:25 pm

    I agree with CK. Jews for Jesus and/or Messianic Jews (we call them Christians) are a much greater threat to Judaism then evangelicals. Whatever their end goal is, you and I know, Jesus ain’t never coming back and we aren’t going to hell, so how can you pass on such a great offer. Free financial and other support until the end of time and expecting nothing but the Rapture in return. For Jews and Israel, there can’t be a better deal. Of course, you can go with the Democrats, who welcome anti-Semites and conspiracy theorists of the worst kind into the tent and bash Israel at every chance, especialy on their propaganda networks: MSNBC, CNN, Daily Kos, Huffington Post, etc..

  6. larry

    9/11/2008 at 4:26 pm

    I once went to Jerusalem with an ass, and I turned wine into water. I was very unpopular

  7. froylein

    9/11/2008 at 4:38 pm

    Off-topic, thanks for the post, Wendy!

  8. ck

    9/11/2008 at 5:43 pm

    Alex: Or you can go with both. I dare say I am leaning towards the Democrats but that has no effect on my willingness to accept charitable contributions from Christians.

  9. Alex

    9/12/2008 at 1:34 pm

    CK, aren’t you Canuckistani? I always get you guys confused…

  10. Tom Morrissey

    9/12/2008 at 6:45 pm

    I’m leaning Likud, but Kadima could win my support by giving me money.

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