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Moscow, Russia - Lev Leviev's Schools With 13,000 Students Suffer Along With Company

Published on: December 1, 2008 09:01 PM
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Moscow, Russia - A network of Jewish schools spanning Russia and many former Soviet countries says it is facing budget cuts and shutdowns as the global financial crisis bites into its benefactors’ real estate empire.

More than 100 institutions are operated by Or Avner, a free school system that gives an Orthodox Jewish education to 13,000 students throughout Russia, Ukraine and other ex-Soviet states.

Lev Leviev, an Uzbek-born tycoon and one of Israel’s richest men, set up Or Avner in the early 1990s, and it soon became the region’s biggest single Jewish-school network. He is also one of the organization’s biggest benefactors.

But his real estate development firm, Africa Israel Investments, has been hit hard by the crisis. Its Tel Aviv-listed shares have lost 87 percent of their value since the start of the year, and some of its units say they will cut staff.

The Or Avner network denied that Leviev was cutting his funding, saying the problem was with other benefactors. “Leviev is not reducing his contributions at all,” Or Avner director David Mondshine said in an e-mail.

“In the wake of the global economic crisis and the economic situation in Russia and former Soviet countries, the support of local and overseas philanthropists has been greatly reduced,” he said.
He declined to name Or Avner’s annual budget, although a number of separate sources in Israel say it is $60 million, with half coming from Leviev.

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Or Avner says it will avoid shutting schools down, but officials and Jewish community leaders in countries where the network operates say it is inevitable.
“Across the board, there is a belt-tightening process,” said Moscow’s chief rabbi, Pinchas Goldschmidt.

The Israeli education ministry said Leviev’s educational programs in the Jewish state were scrapped two weeks ago. “It may be the financial situation that has caused the end of these programs,” said ministry spokeswoman Lital Apter in Jerusalem.

Leviev is credited with rescuing schools in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, part-owns the only kosher restaurant in Kazakhstan’s financial capital Almaty and was recently asked by Tajikistan’s tiny Jewish community to rebuild its only synagogue.

Some of Leviev’s wealth comes from a diamond business that is privately held, so there is little information about how it is weathering the crisis. But the publicly listed parts of his businesses have been warning of tough times ahead.


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Read Comments (9)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Dec 01, 2008 at 09:15 PM Anonymous Says:

"Lev Leviev, an Uzbek-born tycoon"
Wow! What an insult!
Mr Lev Leviev is a Bukharian Jew/tycoon born in Uzbekistan.

2

 Dec 01, 2008 at 10:22 PM Anonymous Says:

Diversify, diversify.....

3

 Dec 01, 2008 at 10:17 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

"Lev Leviev, an Uzbek-born tycoon"
Wow! What an insult!
Mr Lev Leviev is a Bukharian Jew/tycoon born in Uzbekistan.

Way to capture the gist of the article so succinctly, you really nailed it...................wow is everyone on this site mentally deficient?????????

4

 Dec 01, 2008 at 11:13 PM bklynandbored Says:

how about Lev Leviev, generous philanthropist - that's the point, isn't it?

5

 Dec 02, 2008 at 06:55 AM john Says:

Lev Leviyev is at the point of bankrupcy. His diamond mines have been seized by creditors on his real estate investments. Chabad around the world is suffering. I don't believe he is giving any money to the schools but the schools can't say that or all the teachers will leave. I also think the school in Queens, Gymnasia, is in serious financial trouble. The Gedolim are not in favor of his Jewish Identity schools. I know that you put down Orthodox schools - but that is misleading. There are Orthodox courses taught in his Jewish Identity schools. Regardless, he gives, or rather gave, millions, perhaps a billion, dollars to Jewish causes. He should be zoche to have his forture returned so he can give many more al pi daas Gedolai Yisroel.

6

 Dec 02, 2008 at 08:36 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
john Says:

Lev Leviyev is at the point of bankrupcy. His diamond mines have been seized by creditors on his real estate investments. Chabad around the world is suffering. I don't believe he is giving any money to the schools but the schools can't say that or all the teachers will leave. I also think the school in Queens, Gymnasia, is in serious financial trouble. The Gedolim are not in favor of his Jewish Identity schools. I know that you put down Orthodox schools - but that is misleading. There are Orthodox courses taught in his Jewish Identity schools. Regardless, he gives, or rather gave, millions, perhaps a billion, dollars to Jewish causes. He should be zoche to have his forture returned so he can give many more al pi daas Gedolai Yisroel.

Gr8 Post Thanx

7

 Dec 02, 2008 at 08:34 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Anonymous Says:

Way to capture the gist of the article so succinctly, you really nailed it...................wow is everyone on this site mentally deficient?????????

Number One Is Just A Simple bukharian jew He Simply Doesnt Understand

8

 Dec 02, 2008 at 09:21 AM a bucharian jew Says:

Reply to # 3 and #7.

I believe that Anon # 1 understood the meaning of the article well, but was offended by a statement "Uzbek-born". Please be aware that among the Bucharim, when a statement "Uzbek-born" is used -it somehow implies that a person is not a Jew. People whose native language is English don't have any problems with this statement,but the Bukharim do.

9

 Dec 02, 2008 at 06:48 PM i dont understand Says:

Reply to #5  
john Says:

Lev Leviyev is at the point of bankrupcy. His diamond mines have been seized by creditors on his real estate investments. Chabad around the world is suffering. I don't believe he is giving any money to the schools but the schools can't say that or all the teachers will leave. I also think the school in Queens, Gymnasia, is in serious financial trouble. The Gedolim are not in favor of his Jewish Identity schools. I know that you put down Orthodox schools - but that is misleading. There are Orthodox courses taught in his Jewish Identity schools. Regardless, he gives, or rather gave, millions, perhaps a billion, dollars to Jewish causes. He should be zoche to have his forture returned so he can give many more al pi daas Gedolai Yisroel.

John,
using a goyishe name doesn't make you seem intelligent
and exactly which part bothers you that non-religious children receive a Jewish identity, in a time where intermarriage is a major issue
and besides you should do some fact checking before state your beliefs of peoples financial situations and how much tzedakah they gave or are giving

10

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