The 1980’s was a decade of innovation, giving birth to inventions such as the CD-ROM, VHS players, portable boomboxes, and the Chabad Telethon. While these former technological marvels have since faded into obscurity, the Chabad Telethon endures.
Born out of necessity, the Telethon was first conceived as a way to raise funds to help rebuild the UCLA and Chabad West Coast headquarters Chabad House after it was devastated by fire. Actor Caroll O’Connor happened to drive past the gutted facility one day, and something about the burned-out building struck a chord. He reached out to Rabbi Cunin and together they created the Chabad Telethon, the proceeds of which were to go to rebuilding the Chabad house. That first Telethon was so successful that it took on a life of its own, becoming an annual event that has since spanned over forty years… about twenty more than the VHS.
Every year, actors, musicians, and the ubiquitous dancing rabbis come together to raise money to support the myriad of amazing initiatives spearheaded by Chabad, which provides the largest network of educational and nonsectarian social services under Jewish auspices on the West Coast. These programs include summer camps, crisis interventions, Friendship Circle, drug rehabilitation, and many more. Countless people of all backgrounds and beliefs benefit from these community services – whether it’s a child who needs an education, a senior citizen who needs a friend, or an addict who needs a second chance.
So what sets the Telethon apart from its obsolete technological peers? Perhaps it’s the devotion of its creators to their cause of providing for those less fortunate. Maybe it’s the quality entertainment it provides, year after year after year. Or possibly, it’s the fact that like any good innovation, it has the ability to adapt with the times.
This year, in addition to the regularly scheduled TV broadcast, the Chabad Telethon can be streamed live on its website for the convenience of those watching and supporting from around the world. In addition to pledging funds, viewers can now also pledge to do a good deed for the new year, collecting not only money, but mitzvos – further unifying Yidden everywhere in advance of Hakhel. Every dollar makes a difference, and every mitzvah counts.
To make your pledge, be sure to tune in at 5pm PST/8pm EST on ToLife.com. Click here to make your pledge and make a difference in the life of a fellow Jew. There’s only a few hours left until showtime, so set your clocks and enjoy!