The heads of Abeles & Heymann Gourmet Kosher Provisions are thinking about hot dogs in a whole new way.
Concerned about the rising costs of education at Jewish day schools, A&H co-presidents Seth Leavitt and David Flamholz have decided to take action. They recently launched A&H for ABCs, a yearlong initiative in which a percentage of sales of all A&H products purchased in certain areas of Long Island will be donated to Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway (popularly known as HAFTR), a Modern Orthodox day school on Long Island that serves students from nursery school through high school.
“We realize there is a huge problem with tuition costs at Jewish day schools,” Leavitt said in an interview with the Forward. “We never set out to solve any problems, but we wanted to try to help.”
The funds that are raised will go directly to the school’s parent-teacher association, which supports extra-curricular programs such as holiday parties, a bar and bat mitzvah workshop, and a mother/daughter dinner for the senior class.
This is the first time the school has been involved in this type of fund-raising initiative. “We’re doing well in the Five Towns,” Leavitt said, “and we wanted to give back to the community.”
Founded in 1954 by Oscar Abeles and Leopold Heymann, A&H was purchased in 1997 by Leavitt and Flamholz. Headquartered in the Bronx, the company sells kosher deli products such as pastrami, salami, corned beef, brisket, knockwurst and smoked turkey in supermarkets and in delis nationwide, as well as by mail order. In July 2004, Forward Food Maven Matthew Goodman named A&H beef frankfurters as the top pick in a taster’s survey of kosher hot dogs.
Two of Leavitt’s children, Jonas, 9, and Julia, 6, are students at HAFTR, where annual tuition can run up to $16,500.
The initiative, which began in September 2005, guarantees a certain percentage of sales to the school. Just shy of two months after the yearlong program’s inception, A&H had raised half the promised amount — Flamholz declined to name the exact figures — and the company has seen an overall increase in sales.
“We’re hoping that this will encourage other parents in the community to take part in similar programs,” said HAFTR PTA president Susan Kay.