Lakewood Galvanizes in Support of the Charedi Communities of Southern Israel

On Wednesday evening, Jan. 10, a momentous meeting of the esteemed Rabbanim of Lakewood took place in the home of Rav Eli Herzka, Rov of Khal Meor Chaim.

In addition to Rabbanim representing kehillos throughout the length and breadth of Lakewood, the gathering was graced with the presence of BMG Roshei Yeshiva Rav Dovid Schustal shlita and Rav Yeruchim Olshin shlita and other prominent Gedolei Torah of Lakewood. It was called to galvanize emergency support for the beleaguered communities of southern Israel, and to call for the start of a major campaign to raise $3 million in desperately needed funds to help tens of thousands of families of bnei Torah make it through their time of crisis.

In the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7th terror attack and the war that began in southern Israel, tens of thousands of families had their lives turned upside down as they had to flee from their homes. As they scrambled to survive, they lost their stability and source of livelihood, and were thrust into a desperate situation.

In this extremely traumatic time, Mateh Hachessed was founded to provide a comprehensive solution to all the difficulties that arose, under the guidance of da’as Torah. The families from the communities in the Negev and southern Israel – such as Netivot, Ofakim, Sderot, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Farah – were exposed to sights of horror and destruction and were forced to leave their homes in an attempt to stay safe. Along with the heavy mental toll and the trauma they experienced, many were now facing economic ruin as well as their jobs and businesses ceased to exist.

Each family had unique needs, and Mateh Hachessed, under the leadership of its founder, Rabbi Aharon Assayag, was there to serve as the one organization providing a myriad of services for these charedi families, ranging from helping thousands of families with housing, the distribution of thousands of hot meals every day, financial assistance and financial counseling to properly deal with the situation, the establishment of a Kollel Avreichim for those evacuated from the south to Jerusalem, recreational and social activities for the children of the evacuees, providing emotional support and care to those dealing with anxiety and trauma and finding alternative study frameworks and placement in schools – both in regular and special education.

As the families return home, they are still in need of much help to get their lives back to normal. Mateh Hachessed continues to assist them with assistance in the short term that will strengthen the families in the long term. Mateh Hachessed is continuing to help almost 100,000 chareidi residents in the cities of the south, focusing its activities on financial assistance while building a strong and supportive personal and social community infrastructure.

At the asifa in Lakewood, it was decided that every Rov in Lakewood would speak about this important work on Shabbos, Parshas Va’eira, and urge their congregants

Rav Herzka welcomed the distinguished crowd and described assisting Mateh Hachessed as a “mitzvah choshuva v’gedolah m’od.”

He rhetorically asked, “How can we sleep at night when hundreds of thousands of Israeli families who went through so much still cannot sleep as a result of their trauma and financial worries?”

“The first step,” he said. “Is to feel their pain and to understand their matzav. We must empathize with them and be there for them.”

Rav Uri Deutsch shlita, Rov of Forest Park, then delivered a message that was sent specially to the Lakewood community by Rav Avrohom Yehoshua Soloveitchik shlita, Rosh Yeshivas Brisk.

He related that Harav Avrohom Yehoshua told him that Rav Assayag is someone he has known for many years and whom he trusts implicitly. He added that he has investigated every detail of this organization thoroughly and he can testify that it is run 100% al taharas hakodesh and every penny is used wisely and for urgent needs. Therefore, he is completely somech on them.

“If Rav Avrohom Yehoshua is somech on Mateh Hachessed, we certainly can rely on them as well,” said Rav Deutsch. “It is a chov kadosh to stand with Rav Assayag.”

Rav Nochum Binder shlita, Rov of Hampshire Heights, spoke emotionally about the suffering of the 21,000 charedi families whose lives changed on Simchas Torah, who are currently being assisted by Mateh Hachessed. He cried out that thousands of yungaleit are broken, thousands of children are traumatized, and thousands of working men have lost their source of parnassah. It is up to us to lift up our downtrodden brethren, who are still living in a war zone, and place them back on their feet.

He exclaimed, “Their hearts are broken. We must give them our hearts.”

He concluded by saying that all gedolei Yisroel of Eretz Yisroel, from all sects, have declared that this is the chovas hasha’ah. Therefore, we certainly must heed this call to action.

Rav Avrohom Kammer shlita, Rov of Central Court Shul, who has taken on a leadership role in this fundraising effort, was the final speaker. He described the current situation as a “tzaras rabim”, that requires the participation of every yachid on behalf of those affected.

All of the Rabbanim agreed to speak about this important cause to their respective kehillos this Shabbos and to give their mispalelim the opportunity and zechus to be a part of providing salvation to tens of thousands of bnei Torah in Artzeinu Hakedosha.


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