Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

20 Ellul 5760 - September 20, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Torah Leaders Make Sure Charity Goes to Those Who Need it Most
By Moshe Schapiro

Case #504: An avreich must undergo a kidney transplant, but it will cost him more than $150,000. Case #544: A widow and her orphan children have nothing to eat. Case #552: A father has been struck with a devastating illness, and his 13 children are now left without a roof over their heads.

Tragedy does not choose its victims on the basis of their ability to cope. On any given day there are dozens of families in Eretz Yisroel who find themselves in dire need of assistance. But they lack both the social network and the financial resources to see them through their hour of need.

Fortunately, there are many Jews throughout the world who would like their tzedaka to go to these kinds of families -- the ones who need it most. But for years, they had no way of reaching these families.

At least, that was the case until the Vaad HaRabbonim was established. Under the guidance of HaRav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, HaRav Moshe Halberstam, HaRav Shmuel Auerbach and other Torah leaders, the volunteer organization has become the most respected address in Eretz Yisroel for distributing tzedaka to needy families.

The Vaad is one of the few charitable organizations where almost every penny that is collected goes straight to the families. Everyone who works directly for the Vaad does so on a strictly voluntary basis, and administrative costs are kept to an absolute minimum.

How does the Vaad work? When it hears about a family that is in distress, it immediately sends out a representative to visit the home and make a thorough evaluation of the situation. Only those families who truly have nowhere else to turn receive funds from the Vaad.

Some families need just one-time assistance. But if a family requests additional aid because they have been devastated by a long-term illness or other ongoing problem, the organization makes sure to reevaluate the family's situation several times throughout the year.

The organization has an outstanding reputation for trustworthiness, and another hallmark of the Vaad is its insistence on guarding the privacy, and thereby maintaining the dignity, of those who receive funds.

The three families listed above, case numbers 504, 544 and 552, were part of a charitable appeal that was sent to thousands of families last winter. Since only the barest details about each family's situation are given, the recipient of the mailing must use his or her imagination to fill in the rest. For example, he must think to himself what that sick father of 13 must be going through at this moment.

But this unique kind of appeal works.

"Everyone has heard the cries of a child who is hungry," says Rabbi Shlomo Blau, Head of Vaad HaRabbonim. "So it really takes very little to imagine the anguish of a parent who has nothing to give his child -- or children -- to eat. What takes a little more thought is deciding how you will respond to the cries of these children."

For the last six years, the Vaad has been asking Am Yisroel to respond generously to the cries of those who are in distress, and Rabbi Blau is confident that this year's Rosh Hashanah appeal will once again be a success.

"At this time of year, when we are asking Hashem for so many brochos for our own families," says Rabbi Blau, "who can afford to ignore the pleas of families who are less fortunate?"


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