Koby, the fifth child in his family, was two years old when his mother was in a serious automobile accident. She became crippled and bedridden. His father couldn’t cope. At the young age of seven years old, Koby was put in foster care with his father’s cousins. The cousins were long on strictness and short on love. As Koby declares, “I had a childhood with no good memories.”
At 15, Koby quit school and went to work. He got a job as a delivery boy. He slept in the company’s storeroom. Every two days he went to the home of his boss’s parents in order to take a shower. Every couple of weeks he went to his married sister in Ashkelon to do laundry.
When he was 17, someone brought him to Yeshivas Rashi. “In yeshivah,” Koby, now 21, says, “my life changed to a different world. I was a person without friends at all. The yeshivah taught me how to behave with people; it taught me a new Judaism that I had never known. Without the yeshivah, I’d be a broken person. The yeshivah gave me a home and a family. The yeshivah gave me my life.”
A little over two decades ago, teenage boys who had problems at home or at school found a warm heart and listening ear in Rav Chaikel Miletsky. He started an informal class for twelve boys, and within a year opened a yeshivah that would provide these boys with more than an educational framework: Yeshivas Rashi is open 365 days a year, and provides it students with a home, with a family and with everything they need.
Word spread that struggling teens could find a place that accepts them as they are with unconditional love and helps them turn their lives around for the better. Today Yeshivas Rashi encompasses 7 branches all over Israel, with an annual budget of over 2 million dollars.
Yeshivas Rashi’s success is its biggest problem. With space for only 400 boys, Rabbi Nachman Cohen, manager of the Yeshiva, gets 300 applications per month. “My phone doesn’t stop ringing,” he laments. “We need to start more branches. How much Yeshivas Rashi can’t do because we don’t have the resources!”
It costs $300 per boy per month (after government funding) to accommodate a boy in Yeshivas Rashi. “It’s vital,” says Rabbi Cohen, “that the boys on the street can find a physical and spiritual home. That’s why we’re launching this campaign. They are waiting for you, the reader, to give them a home.”