by Baruch Benmosche
When considering the current economic downturn, in which almost everyone has been affected, a chasid’s mind turns immediately to shluchim: “How are the shluchim coping, what can I do to help?”
One family is helping in a unique way: Yad L’Shliach.
Established by the Friedman family in memory of their father, the legendary baal chesed, Rabbi Yaakov Moshe Friedman, of blessed memory, Yad L’Shliach is literally “extending a hand” to assist shluchim. Yad L’Shliach dispenses $1,000 grants to shluchim, to be used strictly for personal needs.
Rabbi Shlomo Friedman is director of the Yad L’Shliach program:
“We created Yad L’Shliach as a grass roots organization. No major grants were received (yet!), and the funds are generated by the shluchim and shluchos themselves and members of anash. This is how it works: You log onto yadlshliach.org and make a one time donation, or preferably, sign up for automatic monthly donations in the amount of your choice, or you simply mail a check to: Yad L’Shliach, 305 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11213. Once a month, checks in the amount of $1,000 are mailed to shluchim who have applied as recipients.
“It is most rewarding when we hear that with the $1,000 check a shliach was able to purchase an overdue gift for his wife, some sefarim, a new talis, a new appliance, or that he was able to fly in for a sibling’s simcha.
“In today’s economic times, we unfortunately, hear of shluchim who have used the money for rent and food.”
Yad L’Shliach, an organization in its infancy, has already disbursed $475,000 to shluchim around the world. According to Rabbi Friedman, every dollar collected is distributed. “We have no organizational expenses other than the 44-cent stamp.”
Recently, the family has added a new twist to the program: the possibility of donating while shopping for groceries.
Now, when checking-out at select stores in Crown Heights, you can pick up a Yad L’Shliach card at the register, with $1, $3 and $5 denominations, and hand it to the cashier. That amount will be added to your purchase total. At the end of the week, the shopkeeper tallies the donations and gives the money to Yad L’Shliach. The shop owners, on their part have generously donated their counter space, time and effort, at no cost.
Consumers are excited as well. “Adding a Yad L’Shliach card to my cart, gives me the feeling of shopping not just for my family but for the family of shluchim as well,” says Sarah Cohen, a proud Yad L’Shliach consumer/donor. “It’s like picking up a chocolate bar on your way out of the store.”
Many have already made it a habit, and routinely think of a far-off shliach, as they choose their Yad L’Shliach card.
According to Yad L’Shliach’s associate director, Avraham (Fried) Friedman, what encourages and heartens the shluchim, besides for the obvious, is the sentiment that comes from the awareness that anash, in places all around the world, are thinking of them and “joining” in their shlichus.
“Picture the moment a shliach or shlucha opens their mailbox and finds a surprise $1,000 check from Yad L’Shliach to be used for their personal needs. I’ve met many Yad L’Shliach recipients, and it’s very humbling and inspiring to hear the appreciation they express,” says Avraham, with obvious delight in his pet charity.
“Now imagine the nachas you will receive knowing that you have contributed to a moment of pure happiness in the everyday lives of shluchim everywhere.”
Stores to date that are already participating in the program: Eber’s Liquor, Empire Kosher, Kahan’s Superette, Koshertown and Weinstein’s Hardware.
So look for the bright Yad L’Shliach cards as you wait at the checkout counter, and help Yad L’Shliach help shluchim who are hurting during these difficult economic times.
To sign up, visit: Yadlshliach.org, or mail your check to: Yad L’Shliach, 305 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, New York 11213