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September 1, 2014 / 6 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Tomchei Shabbos’

Tomchei Shabbos Of Miami Serves Needy Families

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Tomchei Shabbos of Miami was founded in 2009 by students of Rabbi Friedberg of North Miami Beach. Every Friday the organization distributes kosher food to more than seventy families throughout South Florida. Tomchei Shabbos means “supporters of the Sabbath” and that is just what the organization does.

Preparing Tomchei Shabbos packages.

Tomchei Shabbos believes in helping the Jewish needy without making them feel needy. There is 100 percent confidentiality for recipients. The nonprofit organization is unique. All donations go directly toward the cause. There are no salaries. All work is done by volunteers.

Donations are needed of food, money, toys, etc. Volunteers are needed who can give time for packing and delivering. All packages are put together on Thursdays in a warehouse and delivered to families in need on Friday.

For more information visit tomcheishabbosofmiami.org, call 305-773-2033, or e-mail tomcheishabbosofmiami@hotmail.com to refer a family in need or to offer a donation.

Two Magic Words

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Last week I mentioned that I’d received numerous reader responses to my series of columns detailing my experiences in a San Diego hospital following surgery for a broken hip. I shared one such note with you last week. Here is another.

Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis:

Your articles speak to each and every person and always touch a sensitive chord in the heart. The letter in last week’s column was a case in point. The writer found strength and courage for herself and her ailing mother in your story of the prima ballerina.

The column that spoke to me most powerfully was “Our Calling Card: ‘Baruch Hashem,’ ” in the May 11 issue.

I have been married for thirty years. We have five children, and that is a “Baruch Hashem.” We have never been wealthy but have always been able to make our mortgage on time, pay school tuition, send our children to camp and take a family vacation now and then – and for all that, I can once again say, “Baruch Hashem.”

Last year our oldest daughter got married. An acquaintance recommended the young man, telling us he was wonderful on every level. All our inquiries substantiated this. From his rebbes, his friends, and his relatives we heard only good reports, so it was with great joy that we took our daughter under the chuppah and said “Baruch Hashem.”

And then, as if from nowhere, all my Baruch Hashems vanished and I could no longer utter those words.

Three years ago my husband had lost his job. No reasons were given. He had been working in that same position for nine years, but like many businesses his firm was impacted by the sluggish economy and many people were let go, my husband among them. Three years later, he has yet to find employment.

My husband is an attorney. He was employed by a prestigious New York law firm, but that made no difference. For a full year he tried to find another position, and when that didn’t work he was prepared to take any job, no matter how menial, as long as he was paid a salary.

Then calamity struck. He suffered a heart attack. We had thought things couldn’t get worse, but now they became intolerable. The one bright spot in the darkness was that Hashem had given us the wisdom to keep up the payments on his medical insurance. At least we had coverage.

And then came another shock. That “wonderful young man” my daughter had married suddenly decided he’d had enough – he wanted out. My daughter came home expecting her first baby. I didn’t know which way to turn.

“Baruch Hashem,” which I always said with such gratitude, was no longer on my lips. My younger children became very sad. Where yesterday our home was full of joy, now there was hardly any laughter. The question kept gnawing at me – What do I do?

I recalled one of your articles in which you recommended that when families find themselves in crisis, everyone needs to push up his or her sleeves and get to work in any way possible.

But I’d never had training in any profession. I was nineteen when we were married and soon after our marriage we received the good news that our first child was on the way. Any plans for a career were put on the back burner and I left school to become a full-time mommy.

We had received loans from gemachts and help from Tomchei Shabbos, Additionally, there is a wonderful tzedakah in our community that helps families in similar situations meet their monthly mortgage payments. While I was grateful for all that, I still couldn’t say “Baruch Hashem.”

In your May 11 column you wrote about your father, a tzaddik who, despite all his suffering, never forgot to say “Baruch Hashem.” Even when he could no longer speak, there were two words he managed to mouth: “Baruch Hashem.” And you wrote of your cousin, a rebbe who lost his rebbetzin and all children in the concentration camps. When he came to the United States, he remarried and hoped to start a new life. And then, once again, tragedy struck. His rebbetzin became mentally ill and had to be institutionalized, and his little children all became casualties. And yet whenever you called him, he always responded with “Baruch Hashem.”

Interview With Gittela Welcher

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

As any graduate student can attest, time is limited. In between writing papers, doing readings for classes, attending seminars, and spending time with family, it’s often difficult to have time for other activities. However, Gittela Welcher, a graduate student earning her MA in Childhood Education from Hunter College, proves otherwise. Gittela runs a charity she herself established within the past year, Crafters United For Charity. As the name of her charity indicates, her fundraising efforts differ from the norm. Gittela and a group of volunteer crafters create beautiful works of art, the proceeds from which are donated to a charity that is selected every two months. In a truly altruistic fashion, works of art, things of beauty, re-create beauty within the world by affecting those who need beauty most. The concept behind the charity—creating art which people buy and giving the proceeds to charity—is ingenious. The artists gain the satisfaction of creativity, the buyers gain beautiful crafts, and lesser-fortunate members of our society benefit. Recently, I spoke with Gittela about what inspired her to initiate this charity and how other young adults can become involved.

 

What inspired you to start Crafters United For Charity?

I’ve always enjoyed art as a hobby. Since I was eight-years-old, I’ve immersed myself in artwork, either on a personal level or for my classes. But more particularly, back in November 2010, a friend invited me to an iVolunteer event, which is a New York based organization aimed towards Holocaust survivors and preserving their memories. The purpose of this event was for the volunteers to showcase films they had created.

This event inspired me. Not only did I meet many artistic individuals, but after this event I felt like I could utilize my artistic abilities for good. At that point, I decided I want to sell my artwork and donate the money to charity.

 

How do you choose which charity to donate the money to?           

We choose a new charity every two months. For the most part, we choose charities with Jewish interests. But all charities must be a certified non-profit, 501(c)3.

The proceeds from the first two months were donated to Hatzolah. The proceeds from the following three months were donated to Maspia. The proceeds for the next two months will be donated to Tomchei Shabbos of Queens.

Since I’ve only had to choose charities three times, it is still a new venture. However, I try to choose organizations that are community-based and pertinent. For instance, I chose Maspia, because I live near their headquarters in Queens. I pass by the organization each day and understand the difference they make. Organizations that hit home, that matter to people, appeal to me.

 

What is the most difficult part of running the organization?

So far, the most difficult aspect has been getting out the world, pushing the limits, and getting things done. One interesting business fact I learned was not to burden the customer with too many options. Too many choices can overwhelm customers—if there is a clear choice, making a decision is less difficult. When we put crafts up on the site, we try to choose crafts that we know will be the most appealing to our customers. This is why although there might not be an endless amount of choices, everything we have up is beautiful and top-notch.

 

About how long does it take you to produce the crafts? Can you tell us a little bit about the creative process behind it?

YUConnects Branches Out

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

            Forty-three engagements and counting. In the three years since its founding, YUConnects has tried helping alleviate what is known to many as, “the shidduch crisis.”

A project of Yeshiva University’s Center for the Jewish Future, YUConnects aims to help students and alumni of YU’s men’s and women’s campuses meet. To that end, it operates a website utilizing SawYouAtSinai.com’s interface and database, via which YU Connectors and SawYouAtSinai Matchmakers set up men and women based on detailed profiles of their personalities, religious observance, educational background, among other criteria.

Recently, however, YUConnects decided to expand its reach. In an attempt to inspire communities to pay greater attention to the singles in their midst, YUConnects organized “Creating Connections: A Nationwide Event.”  From May 7-9, eleven different North American communities hosted shabbatonim, attracting over 1,000 singles. Concurrently, an additional 80 communities devoted a portion of that Shabbos to discussions or shiurim on dating, marriage, and the community’s responsibilty to its single population.

 

Singles at a recent YUConnects event

 

            “The whole idea of this weekend,” said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of YU’s Center for the Jewish Future, “was to really inspire communities to recognize that they can play a leadership role in this.”

            Families should invite singles to their Shabbos tables and involve them more in shul activities, suggested Dr. Efrat Sobolofsky, director of YUConnects and a coordinator for the Jewish Association for Developmental Disabilities. One community, she said, recently contacted her and said its local Tomchei Shabbos would henceforth invite local singles to help pack meals for needy people. “It doesn’t all have to be so direct that you’re going to a singles event,” Sobolofsky said.

            Additional communities, Sobolofsky said, have contacted her, asking advice for arrnaging shabbatonim in the future. “There’s a tremendous interest in how can we do more,” she said.

            According to Sobolofsky, at least 55 dates and one engagement resulted from YUConnects’ first Creating Connections weekend.

            Some people object to young men and women meeting informally at shabbatonim or other informal occasions, but Rabbi Brander praised them “provided they are in the spirit of kodesh.”

            In general, he said, he finds “too much rigidity in the way young men and young women date. Dating should not be just a forensic checklist.”

            Rabbi Brander said he recently heard of someone who researched his prospective date to such an extent that he discovered a lost relative who the family thought had died in the Holocaust. “You don’t need to do such deep drisha and chakirah. If you trust the person who’s setting you up and the person knows who you are, go out once. Worst case scenario, it won’t work out.”

A Mitzvah In 30 Minutes

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Founded in 1977, Tomchei Shabbos of L.A. has been providing essential Shabbos food packages to thousands of needy Jewish families in the Los Angeles community. Tomchei Shabbos currently has two warehouses. The La Brea warehouse, which services the “city,” moved about a month ago from another location further south on La Brea because the building they occupied was going to be demolished. As rumors indicate that their present location is also set to be demolished, they are already on the lookout for a new location. Moving isn’t a simple feat, as every time they move they need to pack up the food packages and move their walk-in freezer and refrigerator.

Their second location services the “Valley,” situated in the basement and garage of a shul in Valley Village.

I recently volunteered on a Thursday night to help pack at the La Brea area warehouse. My friend and I arrived at 5:45 p.m. and found only Steve Berger, the warehouse manager, his wife Rivkie Berger, and a few volunteers who organize the foodstuffs. But 15 minutes later, the place was teeming with pre-teens, teens, singles, couples, mothers with kids, and fathers with kids. Everyone teamed up with at least one partner to do a specific route, with the food set up on tables surrounding a middle aisle of food products. Volunteers received a list of the items required for the boxes, labeled in code for specific families on their route. You consulted your list, went to the middle aisle to find the food, and selected the amounts you needed. You then rushed back to your table and filled your boxes, making sure that the amounts were correct because couples or families with one or two small children receive different amounts of foodstuffs than larger families.

The scene was reminiscent of a relay race. This specific Thursday night’s boxes had to cover the coming Shabbos, Shavuos, and the Shabbos after Shavuos. This was three times the normal amount of food going out to each family. We filled our boxes with challah, candles, wine, chicken, eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, salad dressing, blintzes, pasta, pasta sauce, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and everything else a family needs to make two Shabbasos and Yom Tov in between. It was surprising that our “job” took only half an hour! The boxes were then placed on dollies, delivered to the loading dock, and put in the cars or vans of the volunteer deliverers from L.A.-area shuls. They deliver their boxes of food with the utmost discretion and care in order to preserve the privacy of the recipient.

Recently, Tomchei Shabbos incorporated several gemachs into their warehouse set up. While one must still call the individual in charge of the gemach for an appointment, now the kallah gowns, simcha floral d?cor and furniture gemachs are all in the Tomchei Shabbos warehouse. In addition, there is a room devoted to new clothing (with the tags still on) for men, women and children. For those in need, men’s wool suits and women’s suits can be purchased for as little as $20 and $ 10, respectively. Prices are even lower for children’s clothing.

There is also a disposable diaper program, with those in need being allowed two boxes per month at $5 per box for diapers that normally sell for $30 a box. Strict records are kept to ensure that the rules are followed.

Tomchei Shabbos has a yearly budget of $2 million. All those who work for Tomchei Shabbos, whether an organizer, administrator, buyer, packer or driver, are volunteers. The organization is entirely supported via the compassion and generosity (i.e. time and financial support) of the Los Angeles Jewish community.

A Mitzvah In 30 Minutes

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Founded in 1977, Tomchei Shabbos of L.A. has been providing essential Shabbos food packages to thousands of needy Jewish families in the Los Angeles community. Tomchei Shabbos currently has two warehouses. The La Brea warehouse, which services the “city,” moved about a month ago from another location further south on La Brea because the building they occupied was going to be demolished. As rumors indicate that their present location is also set to be demolished, they are already on the lookout for a new location. Moving isn’t a simple feat, as every time they move they need to pack up the food packages and move their walk-in freezer and refrigerator.


Their second location services the “Valley,” situated in the basement and garage of a shul in Valley Village.


I recently volunteered on a Thursday night to help pack at the La Brea area warehouse. My friend and I arrived at 5:45 p.m. and found only Steve Berger, the warehouse manager, his wife Rivkie Berger, and a few volunteers who organize the foodstuffs. But 15 minutes later, the place was teeming with pre-teens, teens, singles, couples, mothers with kids, and fathers with kids. Everyone teamed up with at least one partner to do a specific route, with the food set up on tables surrounding a middle aisle of food products. Volunteers received a list of the items required for the boxes, labeled in code for specific families on their route. You consulted your list, went to the middle aisle to find the food, and selected the amounts you needed. You then rushed back to your table and filled your boxes, making sure that the amounts were correct because couples or families with one or two small children receive different amounts of foodstuffs than larger families.


The scene was reminiscent of a relay race. This specific Thursday night’s boxes had to cover the coming Shabbos, Shavuos, and the Shabbos after Shavuos. This was three times the normal amount of food going out to each family. We filled our boxes with challah, candles, wine, chicken, eggs, milk, fruits, vegetables, salad dressing, blintzes, pasta, pasta sauce, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and everything else a family needs to make two Shabbasos and Yom Tov in between. It was surprising that our “job” took only half an hour! The boxes were then placed on dollies, delivered to the loading dock, and put in the cars or vans of the volunteer deliverers from L.A.-area shuls. They deliver their boxes of food with the utmost discretion and care in order to preserve the privacy of the recipient.


Recently, Tomchei Shabbos incorporated several gemachs into their warehouse set up. While one must still call the individual in charge of the gemach for an appointment, now the kallah gowns, simcha floral décor and furniture gemachs are all in the Tomchei Shabbos warehouse. In addition, there is a room devoted to new clothing (with the tags still on) for men, women and children. For those in need, men’s wool suits and women’s suits can be purchased for as little as $20 and $ 10, respectively. Prices are even lower for children’s clothing.


There is also a disposable diaper program, with those in need being allowed two boxes per month at $5 per box for diapers that normally sell for $30 a box. Strict records are kept to ensure that the rules are followed.


Tomchei Shabbos has a yearly budget of $2 million. All those who work for Tomchei Shabbos, whether an organizer, administrator, buyer, packer or driver, are volunteers. The organization is entirely supported via the compassion and generosity (i.e. time and financial support) of the Los Angeles Jewish community.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving: Involving Young Children in Hands-on Chesed Activities

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

One of the goals we all share as parents and educators is to instill an appreciation for the mitzvah of tzedakah (charity giving) in our children.

I have found that one of the most effective methods of achieving this is to present young children with hands-on opportunities to participate in charity projects that are child-centered and age appropriate. There are those who take the attitude, especially as far as school-based programs for boys are concerned, that these are a distraction from limudim.

I beg to differ. In my opinion, this is an integral component of their limudim. And these projects breed a sense of communal achrayus (responsibility), teach true ahavas Yisrael, and engage children spiritually. Our great rebbe, Rav Avrohom Pam, zt”l, often spoke to us about the importance of giving 10 percent of our time for chesed activities, such as learning with a weaker classmate. I feel honored to pass on this message to my talmidim.

In Yeshiva Darchei Noam, where I serve as dean, we conduct chesed campaigns with our talmidim each year. The criterion I set for the programs are that all of our students can easily understand its objective, contribute something to it, and, quite literally, put their hands around the items they are donating.

Over the past 11 years we sent 400 toys to the children of Gilo, Yerushalayim, during the first few weeks of the 2000 intifada, built a playground for them in 2002, created a laptop lending library in partnership with the local Bikur Cholim for use by bedridden ill children, and sent 150 Israeli terror victims on an all-expenses-paid Chol Hamoed Pesach trip.

We also distributed hundreds of $20 Toys ‘R’ Us gift certificates to Tomchei Shabbos families to purchase afikoman gifts for their children, and in 2005, “adopted” a Gush Katif school, sending them school supplies, sports equipment and bicycles over two years following the Disengagement. In many of these projects, our talmidim wrote cards to the recipients of their gifts – and received many thank you cards from them in return.

While teaching our children to place money in a pushka (charity collection) box is a wonderful thing to do, it is difficult for a school-age kid – especially those in younger grades – to comprehend how those coins he/she parted with actually helped a needy person. Allowing kids access to the latter phases of the tzedakah chain is often far more meaningful to them.

For example, several years ago when we partnered with Tomchei Shabbos in our annual chesed drive, we purchased several hundred rolls of cake with the money we collected to add to each needy family’s box of Shabbos food. We placed the boxes of cake in the yeshiva hallway so the children could see what their money purchased. On Thursday evening, one boy from each class – selected by lottery – went with their fathers to the Tomchei Shabbos distribution center and helped place the cake in each of the boxes designated for the recipients. The next morning, each of the class representatives shared with their classmates their experiences from the previous evening.

When these activities are geared to children, they really “get it.” I will never forget the call I once got from the proud parent of a five-year-old talmid in our yeshiva. He was in Toys ‘R’ Us with his son purchasing a toy for the children of Gilo and suggested that they buy a soccer ball because Israeli kids love to play that sport. He was stunned when his son patiently explained to him that it would probably be wiser to buy indoor games because the children of Gilo could not play outdoors due to the gunfire from the nearby Arab village.

Over this past month, yeshiva parent Mrs. Ava Hamburger involved Darchei Noam talmidim in a project she has been working on for more than five years: sending food packages to Jewish-American soldiers stationed in the Mideast. Students of all grades sent dozens of Chanukah gifts and foodstuff to the troops, and a number of our general studies teachers used the opportunity to incorporate the letter writing as a practical component of their language arts curriculum.

When I noted earlier that children involved in chesed projects “get it,” I was referring to the fact that these activities trigger all sorts of wonderful, long-term chinuch lessons far richer and deeper than the isolated act of charity giving. For an idea of the impact activities like these has on children, here are two paragraphs from a self-created, unedited essay written by Zevi Shuster, a 5th grader in our yeshiva:

“Can you imagine how it would be if you were an American soldier stationed far from home, [and] away from family, during the Chanukah holiday? Surprisingly, one day you get packages and letters from Jewish children. Now you see that you are not alone and forgotten – and others care about you.

“Some may think you can only do kiruv with people in your own neighborhood, but Yeshiva Darchei Noam has shown that you can do kiruv as far away as Iraq. Not only that, but all the non-Jewish soldiers see how caring the Jews are. What a Kiddush Hashem!”

(Note to readers from Rabbi Horowitz: A significant portion of the gifts was sent for the use of all soldiers in those units – not only the Jewish ones.)

Chazal (sages) point out that the Hebrew root word “nasan,” which denotes giving, is a palindrome – meaning it reads the same forward and backward. This informs us that one who gives charity is rewarded by receiving bounty from Hashem. Here’s another application of this thought, namely that exposing your children to the beauty of enriching the lives of others is a gift that keeps on giving. They will apply the lessons learned, and grow into more sensitive adults imbued with nobility of spirit.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/the-gift-that-keeps-on-giving-involving-young-children-in-hands-on-chesed-activities/2009/12/23/

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