History of Ezras Achim

History

 

25 Years of Yungeleit Helping Yungeleit

 

Rabbi Leiby Zeilberger and his wife moved to Eretz Yisroel after their chasunah, full of enthusiasm and felt privileged to be among the esteemed B’nei Torah who live and learn Toras Eretz Yisroel.

 

Reb Leiby, went to Kollel every day, upbeat, ready to conquer the she’eilos Abaya and Rava with his more experienced peers.

 

Reb Leiby would often walk into the beis medrash and see the sunken cheeks and sad eyes of his friends.  He could see their geshmak in learning slacking off.  Something was very wrong.  He discreetly did some homework to find out why some of his contemporaries just seemed so out of it.  Invariably it all boiled down to the same thing.  These dedicated yungeleit were often subsisting on a shoestring budget and although they were making their utmost hishtadlus to meet their basic needs it was just not possible to pay rent and feed the family.

 

Realizing that unfortunately needy Americans are often overlooked by tzedakah organizations, Rabbi Leiby Zeilberger saw a need for a special keren for the b’nei chutz l’aretz.  Action needed to be taken.

 

He and a small group of yungeleit then approached Rav Yitzchok Scheiner, Rav Shalom Schechter and Rav Meyer Berlin in attempt to somehow make a dent in resolving this predicament.

 

With their Haskama and Brocho, in Sivan, 5749, Ezras Achim was established.

 

Initially Ezras Achim provided support to 21 families who received a steady monthly check in a dignified manner.

 

Simultaneously they approached the famous Gabbai Tzedaka, Reb Chaim Goldberg – הרב חיים יוסף בן בוניא sol zein gezunt, who initially gave them tremendous chizuk and direction and of course at the time was also a backup source for the necessary funds.  Reb Chaim impressed upon the group that although there are many struggling yungeleit from overseas, there are also many  yungeleit from overseas living in Eretz Yisroel who do have the means to help.

 

Thus he initiated the concept of ‘lanslite to lanslite’ Yungeleit helping Yungeleit.

 

Slowly a network of gabbaim was established both in Kollels and Yeshivos in Eretz Yisroel and in America to encourage bnei Torah to give their tzedakah to people they knew, reinforcing the idea that yungeleit should give priority to fellow struggling yungeleit – Aniyei Ircho Kodem.

 

Bnei Chutz La’aretz tend to be more proud than poor.  Even if the guy sitting next to you is struggling and stretched to the limit the last thing he will do is ask for help!!  He does not want to feel like a nitzrach.

 

The check that comes every month without fail, gives the struggling young couple a sense of security and maintains their pride, dignity and Shalom bayis. It could be the difference of going under the redline. The recipient unencumbered by the stress of a minimal shortfall does not have to worry from Sunday how he is going to make the following Shabbos.

 

When some yungeleit received their first checks they wondered if there had been a wiretap in their homes.   “How did someone know I needed this amount to help pay my rent…”.

Realizing that unfortunately needy Americans are often overlooked by tzedakah organizations, Rabbi Leiby Zeilberger saw a need for a special keren for the b’nei chutz l’aretz.  Action needed to be taken.

Although the Yungerman sitting next to you may be struggling, he may never ask for help!

A Yungerman should not have to worry from Sunday how he is going to make the coming Shabbos

history-pic

Ezras Achim’s first office

housed in the Zeilberger’s

one bedroom apartment

Vaad Hagaboim

5 years ago Ezras Achim established a Va’ad HaGabboim which consists of a group of Yungeleit learning in various Mosdos.

 

They are responsible for raising money in their Yeshiva or Kollel and recommending Yungeleit who are in need of help. The Va’ad HaGabboim then present the need to the Va’ad Roshei Yeshiva, who directly oversee every aspect of Ezras Achim.

 

Over the last five years Ezras Achim has not only added on additional Yungeleit but has also increased the monthly stipend by 50%!

Yungeleit to Yungeleit

 

Americans pride is strong.  Emotional blow and subsequent signs of melancholy develop from financial constraints.

 

Ezras Achim was alerted to the plight of Mayer*, who one of their Gabboim had been observing as he floundered and seemed increasingly distraught.
Mayer and his wife had been living a simple kollel life for several years and yet however much they tried to cut corners and generate more income they just were not making it.

 

Some would aver that a young family in this situation should just go back to their home country where their chances of making end meets must surely be better with the wide array of available benefits. This may sound like a no-brainer but more often than not, individual circumstances and complex family dynamics preclude this alternative as became evident in this case.
They had no family to turn to and although they contemplated the option of picking up and leaving for their home country they knew it would not relieve their dire situation.

 

Ezras Achim, acted immediately and sent checks monthly for 10 consecutive months.  Mayer’s color returned to his cheeks and he continued to shteig.  A few months later a search team from a large American Yeshiva came to his kollel looking for a new 11th Grade Rebbe.  Highly recommended, they hand-picked Mayer.

 

Had this desperate yungerman left Eretz Yisroel in a panic, he would have probably been swept into the downward spiral and constant struggle of making it even in America.
Thanks to the intervention of Ezras Achim who stepped in like a lifeline providing Mayer with “a new lease on learning” he was able to maximize his potential.

 

Ezras Achim saved Mayer’s pride and he left Eretz Yisroel like a king, embarking, on his new position with his self-esteem intact.  He is currently an influential Marbitz Torah in America.

The behind the scenes pillars of Ezras Achim

 

We had the zechus this year at the Melave Malka to pay tribute to Rabbi and Mrs. Yehuda Zeilberger for their unparalleled devotion to Keren Ezras Achim!

 

For those that aren’t familiar, the Zeilberger’s dedication to Ezras Achim started over 25 years ago!  Since the week after Sheva Brochos the Zeilberger’s have been the US address, office, secretary and fundraiser for Keren Ezras Achim – that oil the wheels of Ezras Achim in America absorbing related operating charges, gratis. All at no cost to the Keren!

 

When necessary they raise funds privately to cover specific expenses that arise ensuring that every Ezras Achim dollar raised goes dollar for dollar to the yungeleit.

 

On behalf of the thousands of Yungeliet helped over the last 25 years through Keren Ezras Achim we say Thank You!

 

How can you not get involved?

 

Ezras Achim’s uniqueness is that it’s all yungeleit. There is no staff of fundraisers or database of supporters.

 

A spontaneous message that one of Ezras Achim’s tireless pillars sent out with the mazel tov for a shalom zachor the night before this years Melave Malka, encapsulates their dedication.

 

“I’m committed now more than ever with your help to bring our message to Klal Yisroel; Yungeleit supporting Yungeliet. What it means that Yungeliet and their families know that someone is there for them in a time of need.”

 

It’s the koach of the Klal made up of many many many special yechidim that make Ezras Achim the shining example to the world.

When necessary they raise funds privately to cover specific expenses that arise ensuring that every Ezras Achim dollar raised goes dollar for dollar to the yungeleit.