KOSHER DELIGHT - YOUR JEWISH ONLINE MAGAZINE!
What the Rabbi Won't Tell You
By Rabbi Shea Hecht
It's been nearly twelve months
that's we've been greeted with headline after headline of failed
banks, layoffs and government bailouts. By now most of us have
learned to be grateful for having a place to come home to.
The economic storm has taken its toll on charitable giving,
particularly on hard-hit Jewish institutions. Among them Chabad
and its thousands of schools, camps and synagogues has weathered
more than its fair share of the damage.
The life's blood of Chabad is the shluchim, the thousands of
emissary families who have moved out to every city on the globe
to revitalize Jewish communities. It's their energy, commitment
and ingenuity that has made Chabad the biggest and the best.
A myth that needs to be dispelled is that there is some measure
of funding already set aside of each of the thousands of Chabad
centers throughout the globe. If Chabad is such a huge entity,
surely there must be hundreds of millions of dollars raised to
support their activities, right? Wrong.
While some more exotic locations may merit a few years worth of
startup funding, the overwhelming majority of these emissary
families raise 100% of their revenues on their own. Consider
what a daunting task this is, and then think about their
responsibilities to their community and their families. Even in
a good economy, the workload is enormous.
So with all of the pressure now redoubled on these shluchim
families, why are we not hearing them cry out for help?
At least, in their own estimation they can’t. There is a great
deal of pressure on a shliach to make sure that the Chabad house
must always be open and inviting, the Shabbos meal must always
be satisfying. The appearance of the Rabbi, his wife and
children has to always honor his role as a community leader.
How can he make that heartfelt appeal for help, when his job is
to present Judaism from a position of confidence? How can he cry
out for help, when it's his job to help others? This dilemma is
unknown to the general public.
In his younger years, my late father, Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht, went
to visit a very wealthy man. He made his pitch, telling him of
the desperate situation he was in. Without the benefactor’s
immediate assistance, he said, the organization would be on the
verge of shutting down. This man gave him a very serious look
and said, "Rabbi, I'll give you the money. But don't come to me
My father took the following lesson from this experience: No one
wants to write a check out to a desperate man, or a failing
So while in the public mind, the monolithic, enormous Chabad
must surely have abundant funding for each shliach. The reality
is that the average shliach is expected to hit home run after
home run on a budget built on $36 donations.
There's a secret that the Rabbi is not telling us. There’s a
heartfelt appeal that’s not being made. What you're not hearing
a cry for help. It's time that we listen out for that cry.
Know that the next time you ask your local Chabad rabbi how
things are going and says “Great”, and open our ears and our
wallets in greater measure than before, to the men and women who
give so much of themselves to care of our communities.
|Rabbi Shea Hecht
Chairman of the
National Committee for
Furtherance of Jewish Education .
His web site is:
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