Senior trip saw new kinds of fundraising

Emilie Benyowitz, BP Staff

Jacob Elspas, Staff Writer

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When the Class of 2012 left for Poland and Israel last month, more than $5,000 of the money they’d raised so every senior could go had been brought in by parent Deborah Joffe, mother of senior Ariella and sophomore Talya Joffe, who started selling used books last fall from a table in the Copy Room on the teachers’ hallway.

Seniors were busy raising money throughout the year, with projects ranging from selling donuts in the hallways and pizza after school to finding large donations from generous donors.  Fresh fruit vendors in the foyer at lunchtime were especially popular.

According to interviews with Development Director Aaron Keigher and other administrators, in all about $22,100 of the total $182,000 budget was raised by in-school fundraising projects. Another $60,000 came from major donors..

Parents of seniors paid about $5,200 each, and except for one student with a family obligation, every senior was able to go.

For the second year in a row, the Student Store donated all of its proceeds to the trip.  The store earned $3,226, according to junior Jacob Ellenhorn, who manages it.

A mishloach manot drive netted $12,000, half of which went to the senior trip. The Purim baskets were assembled by the Shalhevet Parents circle.

The book drive was new this year. A few years ago, Mrs. Joffe realized how much her own four children’s textbooks were costing and started buying used books on line.  It went so well that she set up a site called “Shalhevet Books” on to sell whatever people would donate, and money started pouring in. An average week brings in about $100 for about 25 books.

“In just about seven months, I had donated $5,095 to the Poland Israel trip… and all of that money was earned just through people giving away books that they didn’t use anymore,” Mrs. Joffe told The Boiling Point.

This year, Judaic Studies teachers Mr. Jason Feld, Mr. Noam Weissman, and Mrs. Raizie Weissman accompanied the seniors, who departed May 15 and will return June 5.  The group was met in Israel by former Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Ofer Sabo, and Judaic Studies Principal Rabbi Ari Leubitz joined them there as well.

Mrs. Joffe said anybody can donate books by putting them either in the bin in front of the reception desk in the foyer or in a box on the floor of the copy room by the bookcases. The bookcases hold books that have been inventoried and put up for sale.  Mrs. Joffe has a careful system.

The books all have a minimum price of $1.18, she said, partly so they can make a profit and partly to use numbers that relate to Judaism, using the numbers 18 and 54 – multiples of the numeric value of Hebrew letters that spell “chai,” or life. Shalhevet’s Amazon page has more than 530 books currently listed online, Mrs. Joffe said, and most of them currently have the lowest online price, making them more likely to be bought.  She plans to run the site for another four years until he youngest son graduates, and hopes by then there will be somebody else who will take the job.

“I have to make trips to the post office so often that they know me by name,” Mrs. Joffe said. “It’s a lot of work, but in the end, it goes to the Poland-Israel scholarship fund, and that is a very worthy cause.”