STAR-K Awards Grant to Baltimore Community Kollelís Chananya Backer Memorial Fund
STAR-K Certification's claim that Kosher is "not just about milk and meat" has recently extended to funding a program that is one of the few of its kind in the nation. Known for its proactive local benevolent efforts, which have a ripple effect across the greater Jewish community, STAR-K has recently awarded a very considerable grant to the Chananya Backer Memorial Fund of the Baltimore Community Kollel. The program (started by Rabbi Aryeh Zigdon) is a teen outreach effort memorializing a 16-year-old Baltimorean, who tragically died three summers ago from injuries sustained in a car crash; his levaya was held on Tisha B’Av, 5768.
The Chananya Backer Memorial Fund award comes on the heels of the March culmination of an initial one- year Shidduch Incentive Program that STAR-K renewed annually for five years. That program was an attempt to help remedy the Baltimore singles situation, typical of Orthodox communities throughout the U.S.; it paid out $367,000 to those who successfully arranged shidduchim for 152 local women. Prior to this, STAR-K awarded numerous grants to a number of non-profit Baltimore-based organizations, including a large one for the kashrus library in the Etz Chaim Center in Baltimore and a very substantial award towards the purchase of ambulances, as well as training and certification classes, to Hatzalah of Baltimore. In addition, STAR-K is a major contributor to the Vaad Harabbonim of Baltimore in funding the city’s beis din.
"As a not-for-profit organization, STAR-K Certification has had the good fortune and luxury of being able to devote itself to projects which do not generate any revenue, but are nevertheless of vital interest to the world of kosher consumers," explains STAR-K President Avrom Pollak. "The Chananya Backer Memorial Fund is our latest initiative in a string of worthy community causes and institutions that we are honored to help support."
One of its programs provides young men -- many of whom have returned home from a year spent learning in Israel -- the opportunity to learn and work in the summer. It fills the time gap before their return to yeshiva with a stimulating schedule, occupying them from the time they wake in the morning until they go to sleep at night. The program averts the many potential spiritual challenges these young men face throughout the summer months.
"We are very grateful to the STAR-K for partnering with us in this very important program," says Bonnie Pollak, Director of Operations. "This generous grant enables us to maximize the number of boys we can work with this summer, ensuring that their summer will be productive both in learning and working in a safe environment."