Mission: Association For Torah Advancement, AFTA, founded in 1955, grew out of a need to fill the basic services that a vibrant Jewish Torah-observant Jewish community would require. It became a think-tank that envisioned the needs, set up organizations and infrastructure to fill the needs, and then as the organizations matured and were able to be independent, AFTA allowed and encouraged the natural process of growth. AFTA also promotes consumer awareness and education in areas of Jewish observance. Among the programs and organizations that AFTA spawned are:1) The Kehillah Jewish Eduation Fund, to unite the community in providing a reliable, stable funding source for Jewish education and to encourage every Jewish family to provide a day-school education for their children2) The Shatnez testing service, making possible the observance of kashrut of clothing3) Daughters of Israel, to promote Mikvah observance4) Jewish Sacred Society/Chevra Kadisha, a voluntary group that assists in the fulfillment of Jewish burial rituals 5) Cholov Yisroel, making available milk products under kashrut supervision 6) The Ark, filling the social, medical, financial and religious needs of the Jewish indigent and older Jewish population, 7) Chovev, encouraging foster parenting of Jewish children,8) Keshet, providing for the Jewish educational needs of children with moderate to severe disabilities, 9) Free loan fund (Gmach),and the list goes on. Other programs AFTA initiated include eduation regarding ritual circumcision, kashrut of mezuzot and tefillin, college Jewish outreach, legal help for Sabbath observant Jews having employment problems.
Programs: AFTA's main program is the Kehillah Jewish Education Fund. Its goal is to unite the community in providing a reliable, stable funding source for Jewish education. The stability and reliability of funding come from encouraging a monthly giving program. Another goal of Kehillah is to encourage every Jewish family to provide a day school education for their children. 100% of every donor dollar is disbursed to the schools; administrative costs are raised through separate fundraising efforts. Kehillah now has over 1000 members and distributed $907,000 in 2007 to nine elementary Jewish day schools in the Chicagoland area, including three schools for children with special needs. Kehillah has become a significant source of funding for the schools, which use the monies for teacher salaries, resources room support, scholarships for students, and other critical needs.