Purim Party at Colel Chabad Grabski Center for people with degenerative diseases.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
As Jews around the world brought out costumes and noise-makers to mark the fun-filled holiday of Purim, the Colel Chabad charity ensured that those less fortunate will also be able to partake in the holiday celebrations.
Colel Chabad, the humanitarian arm of the Chabad Lubavitch movement, is the longest consecutively active charitable organization in Israel since 1788. It offers its help to countless underprivileged people in Israel from the poor to widows and orphans, from Holocaust survivors to people with multiple sclerosis.
“Since the time of Abraham who had his tent open for anyone who was hungry, Jewish people have enjoyed giving Tzedakah,” Rabbi Menachem Traxler, director of volunteering at Colel Chabad recently told The Jerusalem Post
Purim is no exception. On this festive holiday there are four Mitzvot, or commandments that the Jewish people should fulfill: Reading theMegillah, also known as the Book of Esther, sending mishloach manot, or gift baskets, the Seudah, or festive meal, and Matanot La'evyonim, giving to the poor.
“What we are doing for Purim is sharing these four Mitzvot with the people that we are already assisting throughout the year to make sure they can enjoy the holiday,” said Rabbi Traxler.
As part of its activities Colel Chabad runs some 23 soup kitchens throughout the country that cater to the needy as well as to many Holocaust survivors.
“All the people who come [to the soup kitchens] regularly will get a festive meal, hear a reading of the Megillah, and will receive a mishloah manot,” he said.
The organization also sent out mishloach manot to the widows and orphans it assists year round. “This is something small that we do for our widows and orphans for Purim,” Rabbi Traxler said.
The Colel Chabad Widows and Orphans Program has been operating for some 14 years and has provided total family care and helped over 750 children and over 250 widows , he explained.
“The widows and orphans program makes sure that a family receives whatever it needs, especially in helping the children receive an education and get through high school – from tutoring to musical instruments, even for a family weekend getaway,” he said.
In addition, the organization runs a Multiple Sclerosis Rehabilitation Center in Migdal Haemek in the North of Israel where some 70 residents who suffer from degenerative diseases will have a full day Purim party.
This year, the organization also announced the launch of a special credit card that will be distributed to needy families.
The card, called the Eshel Card, serves as a prepaid credit card which can be used to pay for groceries in select grocery store chains. Beneficiaries are informed that certain items, like hard alcohol and cigarettes, will not be covered by the card so as to ensure that the charitable support is only going for positive purposes.
“It is a very important way to help someone while preserving their dignity. This way they can go shopping and just swipe the card and nobody will know the difference,” Rabbi Traxler said.
Launched in advance of Purim as part of the holiday tradition to give charitably to the poor, Colel Chabad plans on distributing over a million dollars in cards in the coming weeks with the hope that supporters around the world will continue the campaign into the Passover period. Cards can be purchased for a specific family or person in need or distributed to someone in the Colel Chabad network – a widow, holocaust survivor, lone soldier, or victim of terror. “The Purim cards are really new and a revolutionary approach of Tzedaka, of helping the needy in Israel,” he said. “We feel this is very unique for people to be able to help someone, either a specific family, either a single mom or a family suffering from an illness, or whatever it will be and the card is rechargeable so you can come back and give again to the same family.”
“This really is Matanot La'evyonim,” he added.