[Communicated] Historic Crowd Funding Campaign – Be A Part of Saving Orlando Torah Academy From Losing Its Building
The first ever of its kind crowd funding campaign kicks into high gear to help this vital school buy its building by March 15 and avoid the risk of losing its home and closing down.
Torah Umesorah and Eastern Union join forces to create the vehicle so that Klal Yisroel can help Orlando Torah Academy continue doing their chashuva work for the Jewish community of Orlando.
Crowd funding is all the rage these days, but it has never before been used to help a yeshiva buy its building and secure its future. UNTIL TODAY. Historically, if a yeshiva needed a loan for their building, they would go to a bank, or to a small group of wealthy people who would lend the yeshiva the money at agreed upon terms.
A different way to borrow money is by crowd funding, where tens, hundreds or thousands of people combine small amounts to form one big loan.
Prior to 2010, the Jewish children of Orlando had no local choice but to attend public school, as there was no Jewish day school. That all changed when Rabbi Yehuda Schepansky and Rabbi Avraham Wachsman, two young, idealistic Musmachim of Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, moved to Orlando with their families to found Orlando Torah Academy and lay the foundation for a Torah community. They were just 28 and 32 years old, respectively, when they embarked on their mission.
Six short years ago, OTA opened its doors with just 12 children enrolled. Today, OTA, a member of Torah Umesorah’s vast network of Jewish day schools, has grown to almost 60 students with a bright future for continued growth ahead. OTA rents space within an office building, and students come from homes spanning the spectrum of Jewish backgrounds and traditions.
The future seemed promising, until OTA-and with it the very cornerstone of the community-found itself facing a seemingly insurmountable challenge.
The landlord of the building OTA occupies was about to go into contract to sell it to a company that wanted to occupy the whole building, and therefore would not have renewed the school’s lease. The Rabbis successfully convinced the owner to sell the building to them instead, at the same price of $1.8 million. Although the building is worth that amount, OTA has only been given until March 15th to raise the entire $1.8 million needed to purchase the building.
“Although we didn’t have an exact plan when we went into contract, we felt that we didn’t have a choice but to proceed,” said Rabbi Schepansky. “We need this building to continue the work we started, and we know that as long as we do our hishtadlus, the Ribbono Shel Olam will take care of the rest.”
Yitzchok Rowe runs Hatzalah in Queens, NY and owns a business in Orlando. He spends time in the community twice a month. “This is a challenge far beyond the capabilities of Orlando’s small Jewish community, and the responsibility now rests on the shoulders of all of Klal Yisroel,” he says. R’ Rowe continues: “Rabbis Wachsman and Schepansky have not just built a yeshiva in the midbar of Orlando; they are saving lives and rejuvenating yiddishkeit!”
Layer upon layer of hashgacha pratis led to Rabbis Wachsman and Schepansky meeting Ira Zlotowitz, President of Eastern Union, a national commercial mortgage brokerage. This past Shabbos, Ira and his family were guests of their warm and vibrant Orlando community.
“My wife and I were blown away by what these two dynamic leaders accomplished and what the community is doing,” said Ira Zlotowitz. “We were inspired and knew that if others heard their story they would be inspired too.”
This past Motzei Shabbos they launched a crowd funding campaign called “40 for $40k”. Duvy Perkowski of Duvys Media has created a user-friendly and secure crowd-funding platform and website, pro-bono, and an LLC has been created to act as the vehicle for this campaign.
Crowd Lending OTA, LLC will be run by Rabbi Zvi Bloom, executive director of Torah Umesorah, Ira Zlotowitz, President of Eastern Union Funding, David Goldis, a tax accountant based in Ft. Lauderdale, and Yitzchok Rowe, CEO of BSD Health Care Consultants and head of Hatzalah in Queens.
As the name of the campaign suggests, OTA is looking for 40 ambassadors to commit to lend $40k. But in order to make the campaign as successful as possible and as easy as possible for many people to participate in this great mitzvah, any loan $1,200 or above will be accepted and appreciated. The ambassadors will each commit to lending the balance remaining by the March 15th deadline, up to $40k per ambassador.
“It was truly amazing that within minutes after Shabbos all the pieces came together, and bySunday night almost $300k in new loans had been pledged,” said Rabbi Wachsman. “In the previous 6 weeks all we had was $275k in total donations for the building.”
“None of us are embarking on this worthy campaign to make a profit; we are confident that this is an endeavor that will be blessed by Hakadosh Baruch Hu and that our profits will manifest themselves in the neshamos of the Jewish children of Orlando,” says Ira Zlotowitz.
Jeffrey Zwick, a prominent commercial real estate transactional attorney in NY, will be creating, pro-bono, all of the legal documents to ensure that anyone that wants to be part of this historic crowd funding event will be protected.
“This endeavor will be handled in the most professional manner,” says David Goldis, President of CG Accounting Corp, a Ft. Lauderdale, FL based tax accounting and consulting firm. “It will prove to be a win-win for everyone involved.”
“These are Hashem’s children, just like the children of New York, New Jersey, Chicago or Yerushalayim. Klal Yisroel can’t turn away and say ‘it’s not our town’. The call must be answered today!” says Rabbi Zvi Bloom. “Torah Umesorah is proud to be part of this crowd funding initiative.”
To donate, lend or become one of the 40 ambassadors, CLICK HERE.