The average newly married Lubavitcher who has spent his entire bochur life studying continues his studies in Kollel, generally for a year’s time, after which he will move on to another occupation.
I spend time in the Crown Heights Kollel (also known as the Mazkirus Kollel) and I can testify to the fact that these young men include many capable individuals who are there out of idealism and purpose, and not out of lack of drive to start working or fear of facing the real world, as some would like us to believe.
I try to avoid generalizations, but the average Kollel member by us utilizes his time much more in Kollel than when he was a bochur in Yeshiva. He views it as a job that he cares for and enjoys, and he feels a tremendous responsibility to give it his best shot and to acquire a thorough understanding of the subjects he is learning.
In short, it is a golden opportunity for these individuals to gain substantially in a way that can potentially have far-reaching positive consequences for the entire Crown Heights community.
Whether you are one who constantly bemoans the current sorry state of affairs of the frum world, or whether you feel things aren’t as bad as people make it seem to be, all can agree that there is a need for active encouragement to help move everyone forward.
Our Kollel has the ability to act as a rudder to steer the ship of Crown Heights on a course aimed for success. It can imbue our community with a sense of pride and purpose, reminding us of who we are and how much we can accomplish. Having an institution in the heart of our community is a blessing for us all, even for someone who may never walk through its doors.
And yet nobody seems to care. The Kollel is in a state of neglect from every possible angle, understaffed and undermanned, its members underpaid and its building unmaintained. This is not a new development, but rather all these issues have built up over the years until we have reached the current state of affairs.
And now Kollel members are waiting to be paid.
Many members have not been paid for the past 3 months, without any relief in sight.
I am aware that these times are tough, that many people are struggling and that many other institutions are behind in paying their workers. Nobody is interested in hearing Kollel members whine about not getting $300 a month.
But it still hurts, because it sends a message of indifference. There is a big empty silent space surrounding Kollel, an impenetrable bubble of silence that says louder than any words that nobody aside from those who learn there really care for the Kollel to exist.
It’s really a shame, for these are our children who have proved the naysayers wrong. They have stuck it through to the end, they have behaved and toed the line, and they have made it through the System only to find that there is nobody at the finish line to care.
I’m positive that many people do care, and that just because nobody shows support does not mean that the support is not there. I believe it is still possible to fix this problem, and I hope that this article proves to be part of the solution.