School supplies
School suppliesiStock

As Israeli children prepare to head back to school amidst a period of skyrocketing prices for food, electricity and many other basic necessities, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ) is spearheading a program to help ensure children will not be deprived of the school supplies many of their peers take for granted.

The program will see the distribution of 11,500 vouchers, each in the amount of 300 shekel, that can be used for purchases in the office and school supply chain store “Kravitz”. The effort has been made possible through the generosity of over 600,000 donors from around the world with the distribution of the vouchers to be carried out in partnership with 55 non-profit organizations located across Israel.

The urgent need for the program emerged following a survey conducted by the IFCJ and the Geocartography Knowledge Group which revealed that as many as one-quarter of all families in Israel estimate they don’t have the budget to purchase supplies ahead of the 2022 school year. The survey found that the average cost of school supplies for each child is 612 shekels, the equivalent of approximately 180 US Dollars.

IFCJ President Yael Eckstein reported that the organization is witnessing increased levels of economic hardships across Israeli society.

“While historically the economic challenges associated with a new school year were relegated to lower-income homes, factors from increasing prices, as well as lingering economic effects from corona, has those hardships impacting on wider elements of our society,” she said.

“Pencils, notebooks and a schoolbag are basic needs for children to succeed in school. This partnership with Kravitz and funded by our committed community of donors will take a bit of the burden off of these families under what we know continues to be a challenging time.”

According to the survey, directed by Professor Avi Dagani and Dr. Rina Dagani of Geocartagraphy, parents struggling with their children’s educational expenses are forced to reduce spending in other areas. While the first cuts typically go to more “elective” areas like entertainment or new clothing, many have to make concessions in gas, food and even water consumption.

“We are a large family and the prices are rising all the time,” said V, a mother of four who has received the vouchers from the program. “Our fourth daughter is going into first grade this year. Every year it is difficult for us to buy all the supplies needed for school. In the past, we were not able to give our children the things they asked for because we simply did not have enough money. Thanks to the Fellowship and this initiative our children can feel like they matter. It gives them a good feeling, self-confidence and the chance to return to school happy.”