Jesse Kaufman of the Temmy Latner Forest Hill Jewish Centre in Toronto made a heartfelt Kol Nidre Appeal for OneFamily and victims of terrorism in Israel this Yom Kippur. The congregation responded with a large donation to OneFamily that will change the lives of many victims of terror.
With their contribution, the Temmy Latner Forest Hill Jewish Centre is feeding children orphaned by terror, paying the debts of a families who lost their sole breadwinner in a bus bombing, providing much-needed therapy to wounded victims, and on and on.
Thank you Mr. Kaufman and the entire Temmy Latner Forest Hill Jewish Centre. We’re proud to call you part of our Family.
Kaufman’s Kol Nidre appeal below:
Tefillah, Teshuva, Tzedaka are the three ways to improve the year we are to have. Why? Teshuva and Tefillah are clearly spiritual, G-d related. But tzedaka? Giving money?
These three things correspond to the three ways G-d’s presence can be manifested in us: Dibur, machshava, v’ma’aseh. Speech, Thought, Action. We’ll be speaking to G-d all day tomorrow, we’ve had the past 10 days to think, and tonight is the time to act. By giving Tzedaka, we elevate the physical, and recognize that He runs the world – all aspects.
The only time in the Torah G-d says to test Him is with Tzedaka. You want to have a good year? Give away some money to charity—that’s what He says. Test Him. You’re here, right? You believe in Him, so do it! Take your money, the ultimate symbol of what is ours – what we earned -and show that you trust. He will provide more, because you’re prepared to use it for what He says you should. We have all been collectively entrusted with these myriad blessings so as to do what is just. In a world riddled with misfortune and trouble, opportunities to do chessed abound. Tonight is our opportunity.
Choose a cause for the appeal. So many – how do you choose? Which is more worthy? Which is the most worthy? We, who are so mighty, privileged, and powerful – who shall be the beneficiary of our generosity?
We wanted to do something huge – buy something; get our name on something.
But no, the time for that will come. And it most certainly will, because you’re part of something huge by being here, in the Temmy Latner Forest Hill Jewish Centre. You probably know about our plans to build a new home for this beautiful community – not just a building, but a living, breathing, incredible epicenter of Jewish life! What a privilege to be here – where Judaism is exciting, relevant, real! How fantastic to be in such a wonderful place, among like-minded people, who no matter what rung each of us are on in our own personal life ladders, we all share a commitment to living a life of values, of truth, of meaning – not just some superficial, go-through-the motions without ever wondering why type of life. There will be plenty of opportunities to give in our new glorious building that will allow for recognition.
. . . No, there will be no plaques for your donation today. No one will put your name on a wall somewhere; no book will be inscribed with your name on it. There will be nothing you can hold, and nothing you can point to, and say, “I donated that”. No one will even know. And that is why, what you do tonight is one of the highest forms of tzedaka imaginable – because it is strictly between you and G-d. A highest form of tzedaka on the highest day of the year -what could be more fitting.
Radical Islam has begun a systematic campaign to eliminate us – the Jewish people – and our Jewish state. The President of Iran? He’s another Hitler. Make no mistake – this is a repeat of the time leading up to the rise of Nazi Germany. We saw how Neville Chamberlain and the entire world faced their moment of truth, and tried to appease the beast. We know how that ended. Now, day after day this man unequivocally states that he will destroy Israel. That the Holocaust never happened. And he’s pursuing nuclear power. Now. Today. And while we sit in our easy chairs and watch it unfold on CNN, our brothers and sisters in Israel are living it, and they need our help.
“Suicide Bomber kills 7, Wounds 49 people aboard Jerusalem bus.” That’s an all too familiar headline in Israel. Each of these people has left family and loved ones behind. Children have been orphaned widows left without sufficient livelihood and families have been torn apart at every stage of growth and development.
THIS SUMMER ALONE:
83 children were left without fathers,
118 soldiers were killed this summer… protecting us – the people of Israel, Jews the world over, and all who value freedom.
42 people were killed by Katyusha rockets fired from Lebanon
You know what these terrorists are doing every day. You know that less than 35 years ago in most of our lifetime’s, on this very day, the collective Arab armies attacked us as we stood in shul and tried to annihilate us. You know about the bombing at Sbarro, at Machane Yehuda, on Ben Yehuda, on the #2 bus, on the #19 bus, at the mall, at Café Hillel, at Moment Café, at Hebrew U, at French Hill, and on, and on, and on.
So we contacted the One Family Fund, which was established by Michal Belzberg, a 12-year old girl who realized that the money she received for her bat-mitzvah was needed more by victims of terror than by her, and asked them how we could do the most good. One of the amazing things about One Family, is that money donated for a specific family, groups of families, or projects, is exempt from any overhead, and 100% of the donation – every penny – goes to the needy recipients. They provide assistance – on a personal, individual level – to all victims of terrorism in Israel who need it, without bureaucracy, and without delays, and without administrative deductions.
If any family here is having a bar or bat mitzvah this year, last year, or next year, consider how much money is going into the event. And consider leading by example for your children and showing them tonight where your priorities lie, and about what is truly important. Is it a $50,000 party? A $75,000 wedding? A $100,000 car, for crying out loud? Or is it $2000 to put food on the table for an orphan whose parents were killed in a suicide bombing in a restaurant? Is it $1000 to help someone get back on their feet – though they’re artificial, since their own were blown off while riding the bus.
I asked the people at One Family, can you give me a few examples of actual people that we could help? Sure, they answered, and brought me a disc with an adobe file attached. They said that each page in the file was a story of someone killed by Arab terrorists in Israel—from only the last 5 years. 1187 pages – 1187 people in the last 5 years alone. And if you think that’s a high number; that’s only the beginning. Just shy of 10,000 people have been injured by terrorists in the last 5 years alone—and I’m not talking about a scraped knee. People missing their hands, their eyes, half of their face. And if you think that’s high, then know that each of them have families. Families that depended on them, that love them, and that need our help because those people can no longer provide it.
But you knew that already.
So I’m not going to tell you about 26-year old Moran Tubul, who lost her mother 12 years ago to illness, and her father last year to a suicide bombing, left to raise her younger sisters alone, and who is now over 200,000 shekels in debt. Instead, I’ll ask you to help Moran tonight with a generous donation.
And I won’t tell you about 85 year old Rita Maimon, who having survived the Holocaust and all of Israel’s wars, only to have a katyusha land in her apartment living room while she was sitting on the couch, costing her a leg, her hearing, and causing her to now live in intense panic and fear. Rather I’ll tell you that she’s a childless widow in desperate need of our help.
You probably already know about the Dickstein children – they are nine, formerly ten, who were en route to spend Shabbat at a relative’s house when terrorists appeared on the side of the road and opened fire on their car, killing their mother, Hannah, and one of their siblings. When their father, Yosef, crawled out of the car to seek help, one of the terrorists walked up to him and shot him point-blank, leaving 9 orphans. I will ask you to help put those 9 orphans through school, put food on their table, and help them try to salvage some type of life – some type of childhood—from this miserable tragedy.
And finally, I won’t tell you about David and Ari, two brothers in their 30’s, who were killed together by a Katyusha as they emerged from a bomb shelter in Acco this tisha-b’av. But I will tell you that both of them had wives, and both of them had two kids. Yona, David’s wife, was forced to leave her rented home following the attack because she no longer had any income to pay the rent. She found another cheap, small apartment, but has no furniture, and no money for food and medicine. Her kids, aged 7 and 5 have become unmanageable – unable to deal with the grief of losing their father and uncle. Instead, I’ll ask you to buy her a refrigerator – not a stainless steel one like so many of us have – but a simple used refrigerator, and to help her establish some financial stability so she can try to rebuild her shattered family.
And if none of those make you feel anything, I’ve got an Adobe file with 1182 other stories – just like those – many a thousand times even more horrific – that I’m not going to tell you about tonight. Instead, I’ll just ask you to help. But not a token donation – serious financial assistance. Because you can afford to do it, and they cannot afford for you not to.
–Commented, “why can’t I just win the lottery?” Someone said, “you already have.” We were born healthy—in a free country. A safe country. At a good time in history – with rights and freedoms. And we have healthy families. And jobs. And cars. And places to live. In Forest Hill, of all places – we are in the top 1% of this entire country, which is in the top 1% of the entire world! How lucky are we! How blessed, and how fortunate? So what are we going to do? We, who live in these big houses, and if we don’t live in big houses, we live in beautiful apartments, in a safe, quiet, gorgeous neighbourhood. What are we going to say to G-d today, and how do we want to be judged?
These people in Israel cannot afford food to eat. Do you have any idea what that is like? I don’t. And I would venture that most of you don’t either. You know how we can’t eat for the next 24 hours? For these people, this is an everyday occurrence. They can’t afford any food. Or clothes. Or both. Or a place to live. They have no money to live. They don’t worry about whether to buy the Acura or the Infiniti; they worry about whether to buy an asthma inhaler for their son or a potato for dinner, because they can’t afford both.
You may have had an idea coming in tonight, of what you planned to give. And, as you filed in, G-d may have had an idea about the kind of year He was planning to give you. Now is the time to change both. Give more. Whatever you were planning on giving, double it. You can afford it. Those who will receive it cannot afford not to receive it. You’ll be okay – G-d promises. If you didn’t have a number in mind when you came in, choose one now that is higher than you ever imagined you’d consider. Through our actions at this very moment, we have the opportunity not only to make a tremendous, life-altering difference in someone’s life, but in our own as well.
But wait, there’s a kicker: Our own Doctor Max Glassman, together with his wife Yonina, have pledged to make our contribution a whole lot sweeter. He has said, bli neder, of course, that he will match, dollar for dollar, every dollar we are able to raise here tonight. This, of course, assumes we attain a certain critical mass, and he has indicated that he has some targets in mind – if we don’t do that well, he’ll add 50% of what we raise. If we do great, he’ll match it – dollar for dollar. And if we really band together and knock the ball out of the park, he’ll contribute double our donation! The more we raise, the more he’ll give. So your $10,000 donation just became 20 or $30,000 and your $500 donation just became $1000 or $1500. This is a tremendous opportunity to affect good in the world, and counter the evil that is so prevalent today.
So, please, take out your envelopes, picture the person who will have their life changed by what you are about to do, wait for a moment, and then do just a little bit better for them than you just intended to.
G’mar tov, and thank you.