In The Press

A Helping Hand – Yad Eliezer from Kosher English Magazine
January, 15 2014
Shira Yehudit Djalilmand
Yossi Kaufman, originally from Montreal, Canada, is Director of Public Relations for the chesed organization Yad Eliezer.

How did you get involved with Yad Eliezer?

In 1988, when I was a dorm counselor at Neve Zion yeshivah in Jerusalem, I arranged for the talmidim to volunteer in the Yad Eliezer warehouse. The warehouse was then in the home of the founders, Rabbi and Mrs. Yaakov Weisel. Around once a week, for a year, we loaded cars and delivered food packages. Then, about ten years ago, I got a call from Rabbi Yaakov Weisel, Yad Eliezer’s founder. I was working in PR and he wanted my help. One thing led to another and I started working for Yad Eliezer.

What does your job involve?

I always say I get paid to be nice to people! My job is to raise awareness of the critical work of Yad Eliezer. I do my fair share of travelling, reaching out to communities across the world. I’m also privileged to welcome families from chutz l’aretz who come to see the reality of how their communities are helping families in Israel. We welcome them to our warehouse and show them what we do. I take pictures of our visiting chesed crews on our forklift and while they are working and send them copies. It’s a very positive experience, a huge chesed, and everyone has a wonderful time. Children tell their parents that their Yad Eliezer experience was the best part of their trip to Israel!

What other programs are there beside the food cartons?

We have twenty programs now, including a baby formula program, dental clinics, the Big Brother program, and our wedding program. With our two halls in Jerusalem and working with other halls too, we can hold up to six weddings a night.

Has the need for Yad Eliezer’s help increased in recent years?

I said once that I wish we could put Yad Eliezer on the stock market there is such a demand for our product! The economy is hurting, and people are hurting financially. Today, there are one in three children under the poverty line in Israel. Just look at our budget; ten years ago it was $12 million. Today it’s $25 million, and it’s still not enough. Until you see it, you just can’t imagine the extent of poverty here. Real poverty, where people simply don’t have food to put on the table.

How does Yad Eliezer find out about people in need?

We don’t need to advertise! People contact us daily. We have a staff to evaluate who is most in need. People fill out a form, and we speak with them. Sometimes we need to check bank statements or Bituach Leumi payments. Sometimes we have to visit the home to get the true picture. A person’s respect is of great importance to us. But we also have a responsibility to check that people’s money is being used efficiently.

What kind of people does Yad Eliezer help?

Everyone we can. We pride ourselves on the fact that we work with Jews across the spectrum. We don’t care what you wear on your head or where you daven if you’re hungry, that’s our mandate.

What help can be given to get people out of their situation so they don’t need tzedakah?

I’m glad you asked. Giving tzedakah isn’t enough. We need to help people to break out of the cycle of poverty. Since 2004, we’ve been running a Job Training program, for men and women. We screen applicants very carefully, and so our trainees have a 90% success rate in finishing the courses.

Future plans for Yad Eliezer?

It’s very exciting. We were blessed to be able to buy the warehouse in Jerusalem that we have been renting for years. The place needs critical repairs. Now we plan to redesign the whole operation to make it more efficient. We’re raising funds to bring it into reality.

How does working for such an organization affect you?

My family raised me with a strong sensitivity to helping Klal Israel. I’m privileged to work hands-on in such a critical organization. I’m able to help provide for Jews across the country and really see what a difference that help makes. Also, I get to show thousands of people across the world that together, we can really make a difference. It’s a tremendous privilege.

Yad Eliezer invites readers to join them for an exciting, hands-on chesed experience during your next visit to Jerusalem. They can be reached at (02)591-2200.

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