Yeshiva schools raise more than $600,000
SecurityJewish day school students verbally assaulted

Yeshiva schools raise more than $600,000

Fundraiser took place in the shadow of post-Oct. 7 antisemitic incidents

Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh (Photo by Lauren Rosenblatt)
Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh (Photo by Lauren Rosenblatt)

During the March 5 Allegheny County Council meeting, Mor Greenberg recounted how her 12-year-old son was harassed on his way home from school while wearing a yarmulka and told of his experience being sworn at while running a lemonade stand.

“As a Jewish mother and wife, my heart skips a beat at the sound of every siren,” she said.

Greenberg told the Chronicle that her children attend Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh and, like other Jewish community members, many of the children who attend the school have been targeted with antisemitism since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.

“Honestly, there’s a whole host of children that have been harassed, and we don’t necessarily report it because sometimes it’s just someone driving by in a car and we don’t even have the license plate,” she said. “There were a group of teenagers that were walking from shul over the Greenfield Bridge, and they were dressed in black suits, black hats and a car stopped and started yelling profanities.”

Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum, the CEO and head of school for Yeshiva Schools, anticipated an uptick in antisemitism once Hamas broke its cease-fire with Israel.

“We felt it was necessary to look at everything we were doing from a security perspective and tighten things up,” he said.

His fears came true less than 24 hours after Hamas’ initial attack, he said, when a small group was davening in front of Congregation Shaare Torah and passengers in a car waving Palestinian flags stopped and harassed those praying.

“I witnessed it myself,” he said. “My daughter was there with me.”

Luckily, he said, there were guards present to ensure the safety of everyone praying.

This wasn’t the only time Rosenblum encountered people emboldened in their hate since Oct. 7.

He recounted that, on a recent evening as he walked down Murray Avenue, a car followed him, stopping a few feet in front of him. The passengers shouted antisemitic comments, trying to get the rabbi to respond. The remarks, he said, were “very nasty and terrible.”

Rosenblum wasn’t overly intimidated by the experience, he said, but was certain that students at Yeshiva Schools would have been.

Chaya Engle, chief compliance officer for the school, said that several high school girls were accosted on their way home by a woman who screamed, “You’re killing Palestinians.”

“It’s out there and it’s frightening,” Engle said.

While there haven’t been any physical confrontations reported yet, Rosenblum said one can’t predict when a verbal situation will rise to the next level.

Given the concern and rise in incidents, on Oct. 9, Rosenblum and other Yeshiva Schools officials decided they needed to bring in more security guards and increase the number of hours they worked at all three of their facilities.

The price tag, he knew, would be high — nearly $20,000 a month just for the added guard costs. The administration, he said, committed to the enhanced measures even before it knew how it would pay for the additional charges.

The extra security was only the first part of a three-pronged post-Oct. 7 plan at the school, he said.

The second was to provide for the mental health needs of the students who were struggling with the war in Israel and the rise in antisemitism here at home. The last, in typical Chabad fashion, was to increase opportunities to do mitzvahs.

Engle said that in various podcasts and newscasts that she’s listened to, she’s heard of Jewish children not wearing yarmulkas and hiding their Jewish identity. That is the wrong message to be sending, she said.

To pay for the added security, the school hosted “Here to Stay,” a 36-hour fundraiser with a $600,000 goal. After reaching $600,000, it increased the goal to $650,000 and surpassed that as well. The campaign raised nearly $665,000.

The money, school officials said, will be used to ensure “the community stays safe, strong and proud.”

Paying for the extra security, something Yeshiva Schools considers an absolute priority, might have been the initial reason for the fundraiser, but it wasn’t the only one. In fact, Engle said, the second part of the “safe, strong and proud” tagline is just as important as the first.

“Yes, we need money for security but just as important is to get out there and say, ‘Listen, we’re here to stay and we’re proud Jews. We’re not going anywhere in the face of the antisemitism and we’re teaching our kids to be proud,’” she said. PJC

David Rullo can be reached at

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