Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

9 Shevat 5765 - January 19, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family

Memoirs, Continued
By Rochel Leah Perlman

Synopsis: Mr. Perlman had come to visit his parents, who had settled in Jerusalem. He was very shaken up by the poverty he saw, especially among Sefardi immigrants in maabarot. He was determined to help them in some substantial way.

All the way back to his family in Baltimore, my father prayed for Hashem's blessing and help. He remembered the struggle of his fellow Jews in the land of our dreams: how hard it was to earn enough to feed one's family. He prayed with all his might for success in establishing a charity fund and had already named it in his mind: Tzedoko Vochessed

My father felt Hashem's kind help every step of the way. The rules for establishing such a tax-free charity organization were clear and simple. He knew that we, his children, would be happy to do all the necessary work to get it started. After all, it was he who had instilled in us the love for Eretz Yisroel.

My parents were finally ready to make aliya in 1962 — by boat. Most of their children and grandchildren traveled to New York harbor to see them off. Many photos were taken and hugs and kisses exchanged. After a pleasant trip, they arrived in Israel and were greeted by their good friends, the Kursteins, who had made aliya before them.

Back in Baltimore, we had begun a mailing campaign to all the religious Jews listed in the "Erev Book." The response was wonderful.

Now my parents had money to help those in need. I've already told about my mother's chessed activities and now I would like to focus on my father's good deeds.

A young girl, a social worker in Jerusalem, visited my parents occasionally, and once told them that a teacher had complained about three children in school who smelled so bad that no one would go near them. My father urged his visitor to go and see what was doing in their house.

"The mother is a widow," she came back and reported. "She earns very little and now that their hot water boiler is broken, they cannot wash themselves. The children refuse to bathe in cold water."

"Aha!" was all my father said. He put on his coat and went off to a neighbor who was a plumber, a kind man who never refused my father's request for donations. When he saw my father at the door, he took out some money to give him, but my father would not accept it.

"I need your help this time, not your money. I have the money to buy a new boiler for a widow. I want you to take me to a place that sells them and to install it for her."

A short while later, two men knocked on the widow's door. When she opened it and saw the new boiler, she said in alarm, "That's not for me." My father reassured her that it was paid for and that his neighbor would install it for her for free . . .

"I have the money," was a phrase that my father was happy to say frequently. In those days, not too many homes had hot water boilers but there were public bathhouses with certain days for men and other days for women. But these places were not very sanitary and the hot water was in short supply.

My father decided to speak to the mayor about it. The mayor was well aware of the problem and even had figures to match. "I know exactly how much it should cost to keep those bathhouses clean and the water hot. Here are the figures."

My father was taken aback and stared at the numbers. "If you can donate half that amount, the city can manage to scrape together the rest," the mayor said. Without another word, my father took the paper, mumbled a good-bye and left, very dejected. But his feeling of helplessness lasted only a short time, for shortly after he left the mayor's office, his head bent low, he met a friend from Baltimore.

As always, this man was pleased to see him. He always said he trusted Azriel Pheterson completely and when my father told him about the bathhouses, he listened carefully to every word. My father ended by stating the mayor's offer and telling what "Charity with Kindness" could contribute.

"It's not enough," he said sadly.

Thereupon, the friend promised to supply the needed funds to clean and maintain the bathhouses.


One day, my father went out on an errand. Outside, he noticed a young man sitting on the steps. He was eating, but not enjoying it. "Why do you look so unhappy?" he asked the man.

"My teeth hurt, but I can't afford to go to a dentist," replied the young man. "Actually, I went to one but he said I had to pull out all my teeth. However will I get a shidduch without teeth?"

"I know a good dentist," said my father. "I'll take you to him and I'll help you pay for the treatment."


Once, when my father got sick, he got a prescription and went to the pharmacist to have it filled. "Are there other people in this area who can't afford to buy such medicine?" my father asked him.

The pharmacist answered, "Yes!"

"Well, if anyone comes and doesn't have the money to pay for his prescription, please call me. I'll pay whatever is missing."

"Charity with Kindness" continues to be active and helpful. We bless the wonderful memories of our dear parents who taught us the joy of helping our fellow Jews in Israel."


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