Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

1 Sivan 5761 - May 23, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Needy Families in Eretz Yisroel Look to Shavuos Appeal for Help
By Linda Feinberg

Rabbi Menachem Mendel Fuchs, one of the heads of Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Tzedaka, is worried about the hundreds of Israeli families in extreme need who have turned to the Vaad as their last resort. But Rabbi Fuchs is optimistic that help is on the way. The Vaad is in the midst of its Shavuos appeal, and he says he is hopeful that this year, as in previous years, Klal Yisroel will respond generously to these families who so urgently need assistance.

The Value Of A Good Name

One reason that Jews throughout the world are so willing to contribute to the Vaad is because it is well known that the organization is closely managed. Gedolei hador such as Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, Rabbi Moshe Halberstam and Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach are personally involved in the Vaad through the hashgacha they provide. Rabbi Shlomo Blau, the head of the Vaad, oversees the day-to-day aspects of administering the fund, and he and the other administrators make a point of being personally acquainted with all the volunteers who are "working in the field."

Because many families are too embarrassed to ask for help, it is often a neighbor or co-worker who first brings the family to the attention of the Vaad. The Vaad will then send a volunteer to sit with the family to determine what the needs are. The final step in the process is when the members of the Vaad meet to examine the details of each case, and determine which families will receive aid and how much they will receive.

Since the Vaad has so many volunteers and collects and distributes so much money, it is only natural that some people might be concerned that some of the money "gets lost." Rabbi Fuchs stresses, however, that although the Vaad may be large in size, it is far from impersonal.

"At the Vaad," he says, "we know all the volunteers who are working for us, and we know that they are doing this work with great mesiras nefesh and only lesheim mitzva. But even so, we have methods in place to supervise their work so that we will be able to say with full confidence that their hands are clean."

Rabbi Blau adds that the Vaad also holds regular meetings where the rabbonim sit with the Vaad's administrators. "We must give a full accounting of all the Vaad's activities," he says, "how much money was raised, how much was distributed, how the organization is managed, etc. Not a single detail is overlooked."

Once a question arose as to whether or not the Vaad should accept contributions by credit card, since the credit card companies charge a hefty fee for each transaction. Once again, the Vaad found a way to lower administrative costs so that almost every penny of every donation will go to the intended recipient of the donation -- the needy family.

"It is truly possible to say," Rabbi Fuchs comments, "that not a single unnecessary shekel leaves the Vaad, despite the many activities we do."

A Good Time To Give

One family needs to raise $50,000 so they can send their son to America for heart surgery. A widow with five children has been struggling to make ends meet for years, and now she is at the point of exhaustion and unable to put food on the table. In yet another family, the father has leukemia and must undergo a bone marrow transplant, and the family doesn't have a means to support themselves while he is recuperating.

Although these families live in neighborhoods like Har Nof and Bayit Vegan, the Vaad is doing its best to make their stories known in cities like Monsey and Toronto. The Vaad will not be sending out a mailer this year, but the rabbonim hope that families all over the world will still take the time to send a contribution before the upcoming chag.

"Every person, according to his means, is required to participate in regular tzedaka drives in his city and his neighborhood," says Rabbi Fuchs, "but he should also feel a responsibility to help out with the extremely difficult cases that have come to the attention of the Vaad."

Rabbi Blau adds that these last few days before Shavuos are a particularly good time to help other Jews in need.

"When Bnei Yisroel arrived at Har Sinai," he says, "the Torah states that they camped as one. It was because they set aside their differences and saw themselves as one people that they merited to receive the Torah.

"When Jewish families around the world hear the cries of needy Jewish families in Eretz Yisroel," he continues, "and they are willing to help these families just as they would help a family in their own neighborhood -- then we can say that we have also succeeded in `camping as one.' And that will certainly help all of us merit to receive the Torah this Shavuos."

Contributions should be sent to: Vaad HaRabbonim LeInyonei Tzedaka, P.O. Box 50112, Jerusalem, Israel. In Israel: 1-800- 22-36-36.


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