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Keren HaTzadik: Provisions and Privacy

When a family requests food from Keren HaTzadik, there are no questions asked, in adherence with the Code of Jewish Law’s injunction “He who says feed me, we do not investigate after him.” (Y.D. 251: 10)

Keren HaTzadik, the Rabbi Aryeh Levin zt”l Fund, was aptly named for the Tzadik of Yerushalayim who offered comfort and consolation to prisoners of war during Israel’s War of Independence. He was such an influential figure, even to the British authorities, that he was allotted space in these prisons to serve as synagogues for the inmates, whose destinies were unclear and who were comforted by the tefillot led by the saintly rabbi.

The individuals assisted by Keren HaTzadik today in Israel are not incarcerated in physical prisons. However, due to the current wave of terror in Israel today, they have suffered relocation, dwindling resources, safety concerns and food shortages, all seriously impacting their lives and the lives of their families. They are reluctant to approach other chesed organizations for a simple reason: they wish to protect their privacy and that of their loved ones. To this end, Keren HaTzadik has achieved what no other tzedakah organization has achieved thus far. Through the efforts of pro bono attorney Yechiel Weinroth, they were able to prevail upon the government to waive the lengthy and intrusive investigations recipients must undergo before receiving assistance from charitable organizations. All that is needed is the presentation of a teudat zehut (identification number), and their needs can be addressed. This saves time, but most importantly, prevents the degradation and shame that often accompanies reaching out for assistance.

Keren HaTzadik has the additional distinction of being the only such organization that received a video endorsement by Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu. His enthusiastic praise and endorsement can be viewed at http://tinyurl.com/o8yu6ww.

Who are the approximately 1,000 families who receive assistance from Keren HaTzadik yearly? Recipients include families from across the spectrum of Israeli society, who need assistance in getting themselves back on their feet. They include hundreds of evacuees from Gush Katif, who have not yet been re-settled into permanent homes ten years after their expulsion, resulting in financial and emotional difficulties. The majority are Hesder families who are in need of financial assistance after completing their combined yeshiva and army service.

Keren HaTzadik has been first on the scene when areas of the country were bombarded with rockets and local residents were virtually imprisoned in their homes and shelters, unable to provide food for their families.

How does Keren HaTzadik, operating on a shoestring budget, obtain food to help so many families? Keren HaTzadik sends a refrigerated truck out to weddings and other celebrations, restaurants, farms and factories to rescue surplus food and distribute it directly to the recipients. Down to one truck after the others were vandalized by terrorists, Keren HaTzadik would greatly benefit from an additional vehicle with a hydraulic lift to rescue the approximately five tons of produce which are destroyed each week if not rescued. Children in local areas have organized packaged food collection campaigns and receive prizes for collecting.

Keren HaTzadik also distributes portable home heaters to families who qualify. Most homes in Israel do not have central heating, yet continued exposure to the cold in one’s home can turn even a mild winter into a brutal one. In the past, several people have been hospitalized for hypothermia engendered by continued exposure to the cold at home. Keren HaTzadik actively seeks to prevent this.

Keren HaTzadik is especially proud of its Lifros Kenafaim (spread your wings) initiative, which provides tuition-free training programs in graphic design, computers and real estate brokering. Men and women acquire much-needed skills and training, enabling them to launch into higher-paying jobs and begin careers. Classes are taught by experienced professionals who see it as their mission to provide their students with the ability to earn a proper wage and be able to provide in a dignified manner for their families.

Currently, Keren HaTzadik is in emergency mode as hundreds of additional families have inundated them with requests for immediate help in light of the threatening atmosphere throughout the country. These are families who never before sought assistance. They are fearful of leaving their homes to go to work, resulting in lost incomes. These are businessmen and shopkeepers who have suffered tremendously because of loss of their customer base. These are the “invisible” victims of terror who are generally overlooked. The address they find most responsive is Keren HaTzadik and they are trying their utmost to help. Generous donations will go directly to these households during these trying times for am Yisrael.

Teaneck resident Rabbi Moshe (Jordan) Yasgur has served as president of Keren HaTzadik USA, a registered tax-exempt 501(c)(3)which was incorporated in 2006. With no regularly salaried employees, the organization is volunteer-based in Israel as well as in the USA. “We believe strongly that our work is avodas hakodesh (holy work), especially since it maintains the dignity of our recipients completely. It is all-encompassing and streamlined. Our goal is to assist our recipients so that they are no longer in need of our services.”

Keren HaTzadik is in need of broadening its lay board and, needless to say, attracting a larger donor base that will be committed to them on a regular basis. “I invite interested donors to contact me directly for donation opportunities,” Yasgur said. “And may Hashem bless you in this holy work.”

Please contact Rabbi Yasgur at 201-637-6091. Your generous tax-deductible contribution may be sent to KEREN HATZADIK ℅ Rabbi Yasgur, 992 Richard Court, Teaneck NJ 07666. Or log on to your PayPal account and send to [email protected].

By Pearl Markovitz

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