It's Baruch and my wife Anat, in a different kind of message today.
Passover, commemorating the exodus from Egypt, is a most beautiful yet most expensive holiday. For some, it presents a crisis.
We have 12 hours left to give Maos Hittim AKA Kimcha D'pischa (to the poor) and it is totally incumbent upon all of us ( as proven here).
At the behest of friends in the US who asked which of the many organizations for poor people in Israel should they donate to, Anat and I decided to roll up our sleeves to investigate.
For starters, the Torah itself singles out the poor of the Land of Israel for giving: "If there be among you a needy man, one of your brethren, within any of your gates, in your land which the Lord your G-d gives you..." (Deut. 15:7). That's pretty straightforward: "in your land...."
From this verse, Jewish law states: " the residents of Israel precede the residents of the diaspora" in alms (Shulchan Aruch YD 251).
Several verses later, G-d promises great reward to anyone who gives to the needy of Israel : "the Lord your G-d will bestow blessing upon you, in all of your deeds and in your livelihood (Deut. 15:10)." That's also straightforward.
This verse motivated Jews and Gentiles throughout history who seek Divine blessing to send their alms to the poor of Israel.
We found one organization, Mekimi, which has a radical, innovative approach to giving. The more we investigated, the more we fell in love with Mekimi and made it the main recipient of our own charity for the needy. Here's why:
[Click here to donate]
For starters, their offices are located in a parking garage (click here for panorama photo). Amazing pic, right?
- The most outstanding feature of this organization is that they don't just throw the money into a family's bottomless pit of debt (which is OK). Rather, they extend a rope to the family to pull them out, and guide them to financial independence! Thus their motto: "Out of Debt and Back on Their Feet." How do they do it? Read on.
- Mekimi opens all the family finances (bank and credit card statements, salary slips, and all other income and expenses) in the presence of husband and wife and devises a program of reaching self-sustainment which often includes sacrificing the car and more. Mekimi teaches the family to live according to their means, and does job placement when necessary. The family must adhere strictly to the program, and prove so via documentation in follow up meetings with Mekimi.
- As the family learns to adhere to its new budget, Mekimi patiently engages creditors to negotiate down (to even 50%).
- Mekimi turns to relatives of the family, explains the progress without causing embarrassment, and asks (for what is likely to be the last time) to bail them out. Mekimi covers the rest.
- The people behind Mekimi are true idealists; the director, Yisrael Livman, is a personal friend from Bet El of impeccable character - a quiet, modest mountain-mover.
- Most of the families are from Judea and Samaria, though often they help modern-Orthodox families in other parts of the country.
This YouTube video sums up Mekimi's work and introduces you to Yisrael Livman:
Donate to Mekimi
Both new families who are drowning in debt and families who've learned to live per means turn to Mekimi for assistance before the holidays because of the extraordinary costs. Mekimi answers their need.
Anat and I recommend Mekimi hands down without hesitation.
They don't have 501c3 USA tax-deductible status so Bet El is providing receipts for dollar donations. We worked out a system for immediate (!) use of the money by Mekimi, even on Erev Chag.
Anat and I concluded that Mekimi is the single most effective and prudently-run tzedaka organization for the poor in Israel.
Four days left to fulfill your obligation! Donate to Mekimi's Maos Hittim campaign and know that your support is making a difference for struggling families.
CLICK HERE TO DONATE
A warm Pesach Sameach from Bet El. If you're in Israel, contact us!
Baruch and Anat Gordon