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Reception At Young Israel Of Queens Valley For Chesed L’Avraham, April 1

Chesed is a singular watchword of Klal Yisrael that implies going the extra mile for someone—usually someone that we hear about from others and we try to help. But what if the person is alone and has no neighbors or friends to care, or even to give a thought? Unfortunately, in Eretz Yisrael there are hundreds of Yiddishe kinderlach who are orphaned, abandoned, or abused. These children are often left on the doorstep of one of the four chesed homes in Bnei Brak, Miron, and Kadimah that are run by Chesed L’Avraham.

At Chesed they can find love, care, and a warm welcoming Yiddishe heart. They will get some new clothes, shoes without holes, and a clean bed to call their own. Their personal trauma will be evaluated by professionals while they are enrolled in a school program that will give their little shattered lives meaning and hope. Each child will get tutoring and help, with the madrich as his big brother and the av and eim ha’bayit will be their parents.

And even though these homes are a legacy of the Skulene Rebbe, established by his late father, zy”o, the children are not urged to become Skulene chassidim. The Skulene Rebbes never saw these kids as potential followers, rather as precious Yiddishe neshamalach, each from a specific mesorah, and they are encouraged to learn and observe that mesorah. The Skulene Rebbes each stepped into the breach and acted on Klal Yisrael’s behalf, to extend chesed to kids who just do not have a chance—a chesed shel emes for the living.

Once chesed starts rolling, more and more comes in its wake. The Skulene Rebbe, zt”l, began this as an afternoon group for school kids whose parents were not at home and who were just getting into mischief. More chesed groups (moadonim) opened up across Eretz Yisrael—the 70th just recently. Devoted teachers, adults, and youngsters spend hours with these ‘latchkey kids.’ In the moadonim, sometimes housed in shul buildings, they get their grounding in being a Yid. It is simply amazing to witness hundreds of youngsters from totally irreligious homes, many of them pulling their yarmulkes out of their pockets as they come to the door of Chesed L’Avraham. There’s a bren, an excitement, in the air as they learn Chumash and halachah. They jump up and down with excitement during the Torah quizzes and focus and recite Tehillim. And as their excitement and commitment grows, the parents rush to bring their children to the moadonim—carpool, chesed-style. They have witnessed the happiness and change in their children, and the resentment that often accompanies a child becoming a ba’al teshuvah is absent,

From Kiryat Ata in the north to Netivot in the south, more than 50,000 boys and girls have gone through Chesed L’Avraham. 40,000 have become full shomrei Torah u’mitzvos. (60% of those attending elementary school age programs enroll in mesivtas.) Some of the chesed graduates have gone on to become magidei shiurim in yeshivas and Chesed L’Avraham programs, write and publish Torah articles, and even publish sefarim!

Every month a three-day chesed Shabbaton is held in Bnei Brak and Yerushalayim. Youngsters are bused in to experience the joy of Shabbos and the opportunity to meet Torah leaders, as well as to spend time in the homes of ‘ordinary’ frum families and to see, firsthand, what a Torah lifestyle is all about. The results have exceeded all expectations. Not only have many of the children been inspired to become observant and committed to Yiddishkeit, but the Shabbatonim have been an eye-opener for parents who come along as chaperons when they experience the beauty of our mesorah. Some, too, have been inspired to learn and become shomrei Torah u’mitzvos.

Kiruv is a very long-term project. It is not as if a person “finds religion” and then just goes forward. The task facing Chesed L’Avraham, especially because it deals with youngsters, is to enable them to become lifelong frum Yidden with Torah knowledge and solid hashkafah so that they will, in turn, be able to pass it on to their future generations. Thus, Chesed L’Avraham must help the youngsters play catch up in their learning and religious culture. They are given extra tutoring and the madrichim have extensive sessions and discussions that include a wide array of topics and that help the youngsters feel comfortable with the way of life that they have chosen.

The Yotzei Chesed program makes sure that they can acclimate to yeshiva life and receive the needed tutoring to cope in an often competitive milieu. There are always staff and volunteers on standby to help them or to be a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. This is a support service that a large number of chesed graduates rely on throughout their high school years, and many of them beyond that into adulthood and marriage. The Chesed vocational center in Holon teaches the young men skills such as sofrus, shechitah, etc, so that they will be able to earn a parnasah within a Jewish framework.

Chesed Weddings, especially for girls, have been an ongoing project launched by the late Skulene Rebetzin, ob’m, and close to 400 weddings have been fully sponsored, including the setting up of a home—furniture, linens, and kitchen utensils. After all, Chesed L’Avraham has been both a tatte and mama to them all.

On Wednesday, April 1 a reception for this international network of chesed and outreach will take place at Young Israel of Queens Valley on 77th Avenue (corner of Main Street) in Kew Gardens Hills with the presence of the Skulene Rebbe, shlita. The guest speaker will be the world renowned Rabbi Paysach Krohn, noted mohel, author, and speaker.

The chesed functions are always an uplifting experience and play a significant role in helping the youngsters who need and participate in the programs that make Chesed L’Avraham the leading and most extensive Torah and chesed network of its kind in Eretz Yisrael. For more information, please call 718-972-6390 ext. 11 or 347-423-7902.

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