'No way we can overestimate impact Torah study programs have on elderly'

With promise for a healthier new year, Colel Chabad expands senior Torah study initiative.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Kolel program for the elderly
Kolel program for the elderly
Courtesy Colel Chabad
As challenging as the past 18 months has been, there is no doubt that the most affected have been the elderly. Often confined to their own homes and separated from friends and family, it has been a time defined by loneliness and uncertainty.

Colel Chabad, as Israel’s longest continuously operating charitable organization founded in 1788 by the first Chabad Rebbe, has responded to this challenge by expanding one of its core programs, a kolel (adult Torah study initiative) specifically designed for the elderly. Founded in 1981 in memory of the Rebbe's father Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneersohn, “Tiferet Zekeynim Levi Yitzchak,” serves hundreds of men in several locations around the country who come to study Torah each and every day. Often catering to impoverished populations, including many immigrants from the former Soviet Union, many of the kolels also serve warm lunches prepared by Colel Chabad soup kitchens.

While many students of Torah were able to rely on technological options like Zoom during this past year, for these “students” that option was limited, as there was less access to Internet-equipped devices.

Now with the blessing of the vaccines, a new year has opened for the program with a sense of great optimism and hope that better days lie ahead.

Rabbi Shai Vizel, Director of the kolel programs of Colel Chabad said, “There is no way we can overestimate the impact that these programs have for this elderly population.”

In response to the demand, two additional centers opened up recently in Jerusalem, accommodating several dozen more elderly students. Experienced educators adapt the level to the specific interests of the classes with a focus on inspiring topics related to Jewish practice and identity.

Rabbi Shalom Duchman, Director of Colel Chabad said, “We have always believed that our seniors deserve our ultimate respect and dedication, and it is a central part of the Jewish ethos to invest in this community. We feel blessed that we are now at a point in time where seniors can once again begin to feel comfortable to come out to learn and be inspired, and our blessing is that this year will be filled with health and growth for them and the Jewish community at large.”