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
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
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
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