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…”.