The heart and soul of Purim are summed up in a single word, “Tzedakah.” It’s right there in the Megillah.
“… they should make them days of feasting and gladness,
and of sending portions to one another, and gifts to the poor.”
(Megillat Esther 9:22)
Poverty is a problem that seems impervious to elimination. There have always been poor Jews. And there has always been tzedakah, the act of goodness and kindness that characterizes the Jewish People.
Since its founding in 1788, Israel’s oldest tzedakah organization – Colel Chabad – has ensured that the neediest are taken care of all year long, especially on Purim. Because feasting on Purim is not a custom, it is a mitzvah. It ensures that even the most destitute can enjoy a Purim feast cuts to the very heart of what Colel Chabad does – and how it does it.
Because every project, program, and activity of Colel Chabad is designed to provide material assistance while maintaining and enhancing the dignity of those who are being helped.
Colel Chabad is Israel’s single largest and most diversified social services organization. Additionally, it is the oldest charity presence in Israel, predating the establishment of the State by 160 years.
Colel Chabad provides various services to needy Israelis regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, or religious observance.
Today, Colel Chabad is the officially designated partner of the Israeli Government to guarantee nutrition security for all Israelis. This program alone runs the gamut from monthly pantry deliveries to thousands of households to non-profit supermarkets in poverty-stricken neighborhoods, from operating the largest chain of free dining rooms to massive food subsidies before major festivals like Purim, Passover, and the High Holy Days.
But it’s not just about food.
- Colel Chabad sponsors one of the world’s foremost residential and outpatient centers for people suffering from degenerative diseases like Multiple Sclerosis, with two locations in Jerusalem and Migdal HaEmek.
- Colel Chabad’s pediatric dental clinics assure the oral health of thousands of deprived children.
- Colel Chabad’s holistic care for widowed families makes sure no widow goes without a vacation; no fatherless child misses summer camp. What’s more, these children get music lessons, psychological counseling, private tutoring, and big brothers/sisters to protect them during their most vulnerable years.
- Colel Chabad’s chain of superb daycare centers enabled young working moms to leave their tots in caring hands and enjoy peace of mind on the job.
- Colel Chabad’s interest-free loans empower young adults and immigrants to make that first step toward independence. And its wedding halls enable the poorest young couples to celebrate without having to cut corners on their special day.
- Colel Chabad brings summer camp and Chanukah celebrations to children languishing in hospitals. And it makes sure that elderly immigrants have a place to spend quality time and enjoy a hot daily meal.
Colel Chabad was established in 1788 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, the founder of Chabad-Lubavitch. It was instituted at the start of a movement by some European Jews to settle in the Land of Israel. This trickle grew into a solid stream toward the end of the 19th Century.
Rabbi Schneur Zalman was concerned about the welfare of these, primarily poor emigres. He created Colel Chabad to encourage the diaspora Jews to support their brethren in the Holy Land.
A century before the advent of the famed blue box of the JNF, Colel Chabad pioneered the ‘pushka,’ a tzedakah box, that would be visible in Jewish households. Jewish women would give a coin or two before lighting Shabbat candles. This tradition continues to this very day, with the Colel Chabad pushka occupying a place of prominence in thousands of homes and offices worldwide.
And yet many people never heard of Colel Chabad. Why? Because, unlike other organizations that spend significant sums on non-stop advertising, direct mail, and social media, Colel Chabad has always been careful to maximize the tzedakah value of every dollar it raises. Perhaps it has been over-rigorous in this regard. If nothing else, it may have deprived a lot of wonderful people of supporting its ever-expanding efforts throughout Israel. Hopefully, this article has caught your attention and your participation.
Support Colel Chabad by clicking here.