Feb 18, 2008
local RBS Tzedaka: Lema'an Achai: a primer
This introduction to Lema'an Achai was written by Lema'an Achai and sent to me upon my request. Comments are, as usual, open. I encourage your comments and especially if you have any questions as to Lemaan Achai policy or methods - someone from Lemaan Achai will be following the comments and has made himself available to answer any questions....
The purpose of this post is to learn about Lemaan Achai. Do not use it as a springboard to attacking or accusing other organizations. If you have a criticism of Lema'an Achai you are welcome to say it in the comments (and hopefully someone "in the know" will be there to respond and explain), but please do so respectfully.
This can be very beneficial to everybody. Lemaan Achai, I have found, is always open. I have found them open to questions at all times. I have asked various people within lemaan achai, over the years, about their policies, methods, issues, etc. they are always willing to diiscus what they do with anybody. you can call them, email them, walk into their offices, etc. but if you do not want to do that but still have questions, you can feel free to ask them in the comments of this post...
PROBABLY THE BEST CHESED ORGANIZATION IN THE WORLD!
They have not seen anything like it in London, a Jewish community founded in the time of William the Conqueror in 1066. In younger cities & Jewish communities, like New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, they do not yet have an equivalent organization. And even in Eretz Yisrael, it's a one-of-a-kind.
Ten years ago, Ramat Bet Shemesh was another tract of open and beautiful countryside, south of Bet Shemesh, situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Today, that hill is a bustling thriving community, with 20,000 people, almost entirely being Torah observant.
Along with the establishment of the community, a unique chesed organization developed.
Rav Chaim Soloveichik, son of the Torah luminary Rav Aahron Soloveichik, and Mr David Morris who established and ran Yad Leyedid in Jerusalem, set up a new organization "Lema'an Achai" - "for the sake of our brothers" (Tehilim 122) - in Ramat Bet Shemesh, with an ancient and yet innovative concept they termed "Smart Chesed".
Taking their lead from the Rambam's highest form of tzedaka – to help someone in such a way that they will not require tzedaka, Lema'an Achai has developed a unique three stage program:-
Direct Aid – food aid, assistance with critical bills, and many other programs aimed at helping families through their crisis.
Professional Services & Rehabilitation – Social services, financial & legal counseling, employment assistance, psychological therapy, citizens rights advice & advocacy. These and other programs are aimed at solving problems, helping families out of their crisis.
Community Programs – Serious Illness Support, Interest Free Loans Fund, Home Finances Seminars, The ShemeShop Thrift Store, and other programs aim to get to problems before crisis drives a family into needing intervention – crisis prevention.
Today, Lema'an Achai runs over 25 community programs, involving over 200 volunteers, coordinated by a core professional staff, including five in-house social workers, and it operates from a small & modest office/converted apartment.
By the nature of what Lema'an Achai does, most of the organization's achievements cannot be publicly reported. So these are just some highlights of Lema'an Achai's achievements over the past twelve months that can be reported.
* FIVE THOUSAND Four Hundred & Ninety Three Hours of support & counseling by Lema'an Achai in-house professional team of Social Workers
* Six Hundred & Sixteen Hours of Psychiatric/Psychological Therapy
* EIGHT THOUSAND Free Dental Treatments - over Five Thousand for Kids
* Seven Hundred and Six Hours of Professional After-School Teaching for Kids at Risk
* Sixty Families received Advocacy Services (a new service established in 2007) - 45 of these have had their cases successfully resolved, so far
* Forty Families Received Intensive Financial Counseling - saving thousands of shekels for each family.
* Over One Hundred and Sixty Families (over one THOUSAND people) received Regular, Reliable Food Stamps - so no-one goes hungry.
* A further One THOUSAND nine hundred & twenty food supplementary packages were delivered (including our unique Shmita-Friendly Aid Packages!!)
* FIFTEEN THOUSAND items of second hand clothes sold at Lema'an Achai's ShemeShop thrift store.
Perhaps most impressive is that Forty-Six Families (29%) no longer required Lema'an Achai's assistance, during 2007. Of these, Twenty-Seven Families (17%) achieved their independence in 2007 directly due to Lema'an Achai.
Other amazing Lema'an Achai achievements over the past 12 months include:-
* Lema'an Achai's joint Social Services Program with The Gush Katif Settlers Council played a critical role in obtaining FIVE HUNDRED MILLION (half a billion!) NIS of additional aid for Gush Katif Evacuees, as a supplement to the Evacuation & Compensation Law, in June 2007.
* Lema'an Achai received The Bet Shemesh Prize & Recognition during 2007, for its Leadership Role in hosting & aiding over one THOUSAND refugees from the Second Lebanon War of 2006.
* Lema'an Achai was multiply cited, as part of a whole chapter focusing on Bet Shemesh (the only city to merit this), by the Ben Gurion University National Report on the Response of the Non-Profit Sector during the Second Lebanon War (the non-Government equivalent of the Winograd Report), published in 2007.
* Lema'an Achai established its First Branch Office, located in Migdal Hamayim, servicing Bet Shemesh, Givat Sharet and Migdal Hamayim (in memory of Emma and Simon Wang z"l).
* The Municipality of Bet Shemesh Granted Lema'an Achai a Two Dunam Building Site, on Prime Real Estate on Nachal Dolev, RBS.
Transparency & Accountability
Lema'an Achai's volunteer Board of Directors are democratically elected annually. The Board includes Rabbonim, a CPA, a CEO of another successful charity, a member of the City Council, and community activists. The Board meets at least monthly, sets policy and oversees the activities of the professional staff.
Lema'an Achai's accounts are externally audited by a CPA and also undergo scrutiny by both the Ministry of the Interior and, being Section 46 Approved for Tax Deductible donations, the Ministry of Finance. US Friends of Lema’an Achai is IRS Approved.
Lema'an Achai has also developed an administrative system which keeps immaculate accounts and tracks where all money goes and what man-hours are used for.
During 2007, Lema'an Achai was chosen for a random and rigorous (every piece of paper & every transaction over the past six years!) top-to-toe organizational audit by the Charities Commission, which Lema’an Achai passed "with flying colors".
Lema'an Achai's financial support is almost entirely from local private donors. Over one-thousand five-hundred families regularly donate to Lema'an Achai. Those who know us best, trust us with their tzedaka funds.
Lema'an Achai is "color blind", and helps all who need their assistance, regardless of race, gender or level of religiosity. The sole criteria for assistance are objective and professional, closely following the Israeli Government's Poverty Definitions.
Lema'an Achai has cooperative hand-in-glove working relationships with around forty other local, national and international charities and orgnizations.
Lema’an Achai is Approved by the Wurtzweiller School of Social Work (Yeshiva University) to train and supervise social work interns here in RBS.
The two Lema’an Achai Free Dental Clinics are Approved by the Israeli Ministry of Health.
Lema'an Achai's remarkable activities have been extensively reported in the Israeli media, such as the Channel 2 TV, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, HaModia, Connections Magazine, Voices Magazine, and local Bet Shemesh media.
Lema'an Achai has ambitious plans and commitments to help more people, even better, during the coming months and years.
Lema'an Achai has enthusiastic support from across the local communities, including from leading community rabbis. Lema'an Achai stringently follows the halachik directives and guidance of their founder & possek, Rav Chaim Soloveichik; other community rabbonim are regularly consulted. Rabbi Avrohom Leventhal, the Executive Director of the organization has over 17 years experience as a director of Ahavas Yisrael, Baltimore’s leading Tzedaka & Chesed Organization.
All this, taken together, is the envy of every major Jewish center around the world; right here in Ramat Bet Shemesh, Lema'an Achai is "probably the best community chessed organization in the World".
What You Can Do To Help
In order to do continue our work, Lema’an Achai needs the support of everyone who is in the fortunate position to be able to give. To give your time & energy, and to give your tzedaka.
Each time Lema’an Achai says YES, to a new call for help, it costs the organization over $5000/a.
That $5000 buys over $25,000 in delivered services! And, what is more important, you’re buying a Cure, not a Band Aid. It’s the greatest deal in the world of chesed.
To date, we have never had to say NO to anyone in need, due to lack of funding. That’s an amazing record.
However, over the past months, our revenues have been severely hit by the falling dollar (many of our donors give in dollars) and by increasingly competitive other worthy charities. The limited ‘tzedaka’ cake in RBS is being sliced into thinner and thinner slices.
It’s an amazing zchus to have probably the world’s best community chesed organization, right here in RBS – please join in that zchus by donating as much as you possibly can, right now.
So that tomorrow morning, when a family calls desperate for our unique Smart Chessed, to achieve their independence again, Lema’an Achai won’t have to say No.
How to Donate: http://lemaanachai.org/donate
Mail a check to: 40/7 Nahal Lachish, Ramat Bet Shemesh, 99093, Israel.
Give By Phone 24/6 : 02 99999.33
Personal Invitation: Seeing is believing, and as part of our policy of transparency and accountability, we invite you to book an appointment and to see for yourself the amazing work of Lema’an Achai.Call Rav Avrohom Leventhal on 9991553, Ext 5, for a personal appointment.