Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Join the siyum August 3!

This is big. Really big. As in globally big. Something for everyone, whether recipient, giver or facilitator, young or “formerly young.” Come to the fleishig pizza siyum at 8 p.m. on August 3 at Keter Torah in Bergenfield to celebrate, enjoy delicious food and get involved in a groundbreaking, life-altering level of kindness.

Just One Chesed is what you’d call a “full-service” chesed operation, in its own words: “A chesed movement connecting volunteers and those in need, making the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time.” Just one chesed … the general term referring to kindness. “Go beyond yourself,” urges Just One Chesed. “We’re building a powerful community of kindness ambassadors around the world through interactive programs, impactful events, and simple ways to get involved.”

The mission is straightforward: a global movement of giving. “We inspire and educate people to make chesed the driving force in their lives, providing them with the tools and resources to make giving easier than ever.”

Giving just got a whole lot easier.

The organization’s “Chesed Depot” is an amazing example: “We collect, store, and distribute gently used donated furniture, appliances and baby goods to people in need throughout Israel, furnishing needy homes in Israel with dignity and ease.” Recently this service has benefitted countless Ukrainian refugees. But many others are also beneficiaries: IDF lone soldiers, olim, Holocaust survivors and first responders to name a few.

One of the powerful components of Just One Chesed is the capability for global networking. The strong personal connections and database of reputable organizations allow them to serve both volunteers and organizations as an all-in-one chesed hub for the Jewish world.

Just One Chesed provides the technological tools, educational resources (including school programs) and hands-on opportunities needed to make chesed a priority in life. For starters, the website has a comprehensive online directory. Everyone needs something, right? From one-time volunteer opportunities to large-scale chesed management software, there are infinite ways to become involved.

For example, during the lockdown epoch of the COVID pandemic, Just One Chesed launched “Project Check In,” where organizations having a database of people living alone identified those in need of a daily call to check that they were OK and whether there was anything they needed. Hundreds of complete strangers made daily phone calls, while others delivered food or medical supplies.

“Chesed Match” is an online directory of organizations that includes referral assistance with the capability of connecting anyone to more than 4,000 chesed organizations and resources around the world. This extensive search tool helps a person find an organization that suits their needs. Users can view a complete profile of every organization, including the services offered and contact information.

COO Joe Klein shared this inspiring story, which he calls a “chesed match win”: “I was connected [via Just One Chesed] with a guy from Ukraine. Due to the war, his older mother—a Holocaust survivor—and his autistic brother came to Israel. His brother needed intense dental work, but due to his limited time in Israel, he doesn’t [yet] qualify for any monetary help or subsidies. I have a list of Russian/Ukrainian-speaking dentists who are offering to help refugees. I sent him the list so he could contact the dentists closest to them. I followed up with him this morning, and one agreed to see them. B'Ezrat Hashem they can help and his brother will get the dental care he needs!”

“Chesed Works for Students” assists students to find and log meaningful chesed opportunities.

Students can find volunteer opportunities based on interests, availability and location.

For established chesed organizations, Just One Chesed offers software designed to streamline giving by connecting volunteers and organizations on one convenient platform. A demonstration is available by requesting it from the website with the click of a mouse. The software covers all volunteer-related tasks, allowing the staff to focus on what they do best: helping people. It also facilitates and manages recruitment in a hassle-free manner, and helps the organization to get on “the map,” saving resources, money and hours of administrative time.

Just One Chesed officially started in 2016, and by May 2020, 2,400 people had pledged time and skills to more than 250 tzedaka organizations. The numbers have multiplied since then.

The backstory: In 2010 Jerry Latinik of Chicago sought a way to elevate the spirits of the community, as many were struggling with the fallout of the financial crash of 2008. He and a few friends organized a “Shabbos of Achdus” for several shuls. Despite the fact that there wasn’t a lot of money to work with, the event enjoyed enormous success. Said Latinik: “I realized that there are so many more ways that we can give, even without money. We can give the biggest thing of all, which is giving of ourselves.”

Dovetailing on Shabbos of Achdus experience, Latinik created a central hub connecting those in need with those who want to help, even if what they had to give was a single act of chesed. Based upon the well-known concept that a single act of kindness has the potential to change the world. Just One Chesed launched in 2016 as a “one-stop-shop for all things chesed.” Since then, it has blossomed to serve individuals, families, communities, schools and organizations who want to make the world a kinder place. With years of experience in the world of startup business, Latinik transformed his entrepreneurial and management skills to feed his real passion: making the world a better place and enabling others to help those in need. Serving as CEO, he now resides in Efrat, Israel, with his family, running the organization from there.

New York native Joe Klein, COO, joined Latinik three years ago and has been instrumental in the growth of the volunteer base and partnerships with other tzedaka organizations. He was instrumental in the August 2019 launch of the Just One Chesed mobile app, with the ingenious concept of employing Google Maps to alert volunteers about organizations nearby, allowing potential volunteers the opportunity to do acts of kindness wherever and whenever it suits the opportunity or their schedule.

As a rabbi and teacher at Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh in Jerusalem, Klein was involved with the recruitment of new students, student activities and managing the shana bet program. “I always wanted to use my talents to help the Jewish people,” he said. “My favorite thing is just seeing the good that comes from everyone’s efforts.” Klein, who received semicha from HaRav Aharon Bina and HaRav Zalman Nechamia Goldberg, lives in Jerusalem with his family.

The community is encouraged to join Just One Chesed for a night filled with Torah, fun, food and friends while learning more about how you can become involved in big or small ways. It’s not just about the money. It’s about people just like you, helping others with just what they need!

The siyum is called for August 3 at 8 p.m., located at Congregation Keter Torah. Bring your appetite for Torah and chesed, and enjoy fleishig gourmet pizza at the same time!

To donate or get involved, visit the website at https://justonechesed.org/

By Ellie Wolf

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