The tragic events and unrest in Israel left countless children and families in New York living in fear and uncertainty. However, amidst the chaos and turmoil, the Released Time program responded with a heartwarming display of strength and unity for all public school children across New York City.
When news broke out about the war in Israel, the Released Time organizers swiftly devised a plan to engage the children in how they can help their brothers and sisters living in the land of Israel. Released Time aimed at instilling strength and empowerment by responding to the war with special projects and rallies of prayer and Mitzvahs.
Children Making Tefillah Cards:
The Wednesday after the war broke out, the children were encouraged to make their own prayer cards, urging them to daven for the safety and well-being of Israel. The Tefillos chosen were the Jewish Hour weekly favorites Shema and Tzarchei Amcha. This small but meaningful gesture introduced Tefillah into the homes of 400 public school children. “Many families and parents have reported to us that they have been saying the prayers with their children every single day” says Rabbi Sadya Engel, program coordinator of Released Time.
Rallies in Brooklyn and Queens:
Another remarkable initiative taken by the Released Time program was the organizing of two central rallies in Brooklyn and Queens, led by Rabbi Levi Braun of P.S. 206. The rallies were a source of inspiration and the children were reminded that their prayers and Mitzvahs make a positive impact on the Jews living in Israel. All participants produly did acts of Torah, Tefillah and Tzedakah.
Mitzvahs at Home Program:
In addition to the prayer cards and rallies, the Released Time program launched a “Mitzvah at Home” program. The program aims to encourage the young boys and girls to actively engage in Mitzvahs in their individual homes and communities.
The “Mitzvah at Home” program provided beautiful Mitzvah score sheets with various suggestions for simple Mitzvahs to be done, such as saying Shema before going to sleep, wearing a Yarmulka and Tzitzis, giving Tzedakah every day and helping their parents with household chores. The children get rewarded for each Mitzvah they do with the new and exciting “back to school” Jewish Hour Merch.
“In the face of adversity in public school, the children involved in Released Time are learning through the weekly Jewish hour the importance of davening to Hashem, to always walk with Jewish pride, and to be good examples in making a Kiddush Hashem every day at school.” says Rabbi Yehoshua Shneur, assistant director of the Released Time Program.
These programs and initiatives are just one example how in recent years the Released Time program has expanded its programing across New York City. By encouraging the children to create tefillah cards, organizing rallies, and establishing the “Mitzvah at Home” program, the organization not only provides one hour of Jewish education but also inspires the children, and their families to live as proud Jews every day of the week.
Released Time was established in 1941 and is the flagship program of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education.