This year the Ashkenazi family from New York reached a record
high in dispensing help to Jerusalem families totaling some 2
Mesamchei Lev struggled with the problem of how to distribute
25,000 pairs of shoes within five days. Last year they rented
the 900 square meter Tamir hall, but it was cramped.
Mesamchei Lev was determined to give everything with a smile
for both giver and recipient. They sat and brainstormed and
finally decided to erect a tent.
A suitable site was found at the intersection of Yaffo and
Sarei Yisroel, the most accessible place in Jerusalem. A tent
of 1400 square meters was erected on a parking lot. Adjacent
to the tent temporary offices and excellent lavatories were
Space larger than Expected
The shoes and sandals were brought by Mesamchei Lev from
Italy, Spain, China and Turkey. There was a very rich
selection, which allowed each and every child to choose his
5,500 households received the tickets allowing them to obtain
shoes for their children, for a total of 25,000 pairs. The
mother pays 20 NIS for one pair of shoes. The real cost of
the shoes is obviously much higher. But this approach allows
the child to feel better, because his mother paid for his
shoes and didn't receive them as a donation.
The distribution was planned so that for each day of the
distribution, 5000 children per day would be invited to come,
and the tickets were a different color for each day. The tent
itself was divided between men and women.
The shoe tickets as well as the food items and other products
were mailed in advance to the family homes, with wonderful
results thanks to concentrated and devoted work and
coordination with different sector heads and businessmen,
especially in Jerusalem and its satellite communities of Beit
Shemesh and Beitar.
Before opening the week of distribution, Mesamchei Lev
gathered its sales staff to stress and reinforce the feeling
of fulfilling a mission. Rabbi Ashkenazi, the son of the
organization's head, asked each and every staff member to
remember at all times that his job is to make the poor and
needy feel happy. A warm and friendly smile is an integral
part of the mitzvah. If help is offered without making the
recipient feel happy, then we have missed our mark!
The exemplary organization and order that prevailed
throughout the distribution ultimately saved time for every
customer as well as for the staff.
As it turned out, the amazing order created a situation where
only 66 percent of the time designated for trying on and
buying the shoes was necessary. Within 10 minutes, on the
average, each child left the store with his new shoes.
New Shoes for the First Time
25,000 children received shoes a full week before Rosh
Chodesh Nisan. Everyone was thrilled, but some were happier
One family related how their children were receiving new
shoes for the holiday for the first time in their lives. This
is a very large family with very low resources. The parents
barely earn a living. So the children passed on their shoes
from one to the other, and even these shoes were used but in
good condition when they first received them from relatives
or neighbors. Certainly this was the first time that all the
children were able to wear new shoes together . . . even when
they married off their firstborn, they didn't dare buy shoes
for all the children.
One family came with 10 children to try on shoes, but for
some reason this household received only 7 tickets. 3 small
children approached those in charge and asked with honest
innocence: "Can we also have shoes?" Indeed, the staff so
much wanted to give, perhaps even more than the child wanted
Kimcha Depischa as Intended
Before dismantling the tent of chessed, it was used for one
day to distribute 6 tons of hand-baked shemurah
Maintaining their tradition to give only the best of the
best, Mesamchei Lev chose to provide the most mehadrin
matzos available, produced at Kommemiyus.
The Ashkenazi family decided to send these very expensive
matzos, and therefore decided to provide them for the seder
night to adults as well and not just to children. There were
matzos baked from hand-ground flour and also matzos baked
with flour that was machine ground.
The distribution of the matzos was attended by the Admor of
Chernobyl, who praised the great mitzvah of kimcha
depischa of the Ashkenazi family. The Admor's presence
caused much excitement among the organizers and activists.
Because of the huge demand, Rabbi Ashkenazi decided to add an
additional ton of shemurah matzos to distribute. These
matzos came from the Weinberg bakery, under the hashgacha
of the Badatz Eida Chareidis, since it was no longer
possible to obtain such a large quantity from Kommemiyus.
On a Full Cup of Wine
4,000 cases of wine and grape juice were delivered to
thousands of homes. Here as well, the style of Mesamchei Lev
The organization ordered a special line of wine and 100
percent natural grape juice, American style, from The Zion
wineries of the Shorr family. Each case contained a dozen
bottles: 10 grape juice and 2 wine. The distribution of the
cases was carried at local and neighborhood distribution
Meat and Fish and all Delicacies
The most difficult stage, as well as the most costly, was the
distribution of poultry, meat and fish. 86 tons passed
through the sparkling but small special store on Rabbenu
Gershom St. in Jerusalem.
The chessed store of Mesamchei Lev was especially
established to distribute the meat and fish. 40 tons of
poultry, 14 tons of beef and 32 tons of fish.
The trucks came day and night, almost nonstop, so that the
huge freezers don't remain empty for even one moment, despite
the fact that families kept coming to receive their meat and
To bring Joy to the Widow's heart
A philosophy of chessed is part and parcel of
Mesamchei Lev. Because it is really a total way of thinking
to be able to understand and comprehend the innermost reaches
of the poor person's misery.
The shoes are given to families with children. And food
products are given to people who have already married off all
the children, because during Pesach many of the married
children go to their parents with grandchildren or even great-
grandchildren in tow. Without Mesamchei Lev's help, many such
parents/grandparents would have nothing to feed these
But there are also lonely, poor and unfortunate widows. They
don't need food because they attend their children's or other
family member's seder. But they also need a financial push
for Pesach, or clothing or shoes. And no less important: "A
few pennies" so they can buy something for their
We were Slaves
Rabbi Ashkenazi the son enthusiastically sums everything up:
"Indeed, we were slaves, because we feel that slavery was
given us and not dominion. Slaves to sons of royalty. But
only in this way can we truly feel as free men . . . ."
The Patched Shoes say Thank You
Just recently a brown cardboard carton arrived at the
Mesamchei Lev offices. The return address on the package was
of a Jerusalem family.
Surprisingly, the package contained a small pile of old and
patched children's shoes.
A note enclosed with the package said it all:
"This is the first time our children have new shoes for the
holiday. We thought that Mesamchei Lev deserved a special, if
symbolic, gift of appreciation. And nothing can express our
thanks more than our very happy children's old shoes . . .