“I Appreciate the Zechus

Kupas Yom Tov Campaign Soars to New Heights

By Simmy Horwitz

The shining faces told the whole story. B’chasdei Hashem, this Zman Simchaseinu was a true Yom Tov of simcha for thousands of Lakewood yungeleit and their families as Kupas Yom Tov came through to ease the financial burden. In their characteristic discreet and honorable way, Kupas Yom Tov distributed over 900 checks this Yom Tov season – an astonishing 30 percent increase from their last campaign. Yet to its founders, the jump – while magnificently incredible – was hardly a surprise. After all, they’ve seen their numbers rise in miraculous fashion with every campaign since inception.

“The Lakewood community really feels a connection towards this campaign,” explains Rabbi Mayer Shimon Kalmanowitz, co-founder of the kupah. “The yeshiva and its yungeleit are at the heart of our town, and people are really excited about the opportunity to give this kavod to them.”

Kupas Yom Tov was initially founded with a focus on attracting the attention of the bnei yeshiva themselves, a channel for yungeleit to help their fellow chavrusas and friends – yet it quickly became apparent to its founders that the whole town is eager to have a part in this zechus.

“This season, we were approached by a chashuve balabus,” describes Rabbi Mechy Reidler, Kupas Yom Tov director, “who encouraged us to reach further. ‘This is a town of bnei Torah,’ he said, ‘and people want to join in with them!’”

On Erev Yom Tov, a call went out around Lakewood: Kupas Yom Tov had been promised a significant additional donation, but only if they hit a higher, never-before-reached goal. The organization’s devoted team waited with bated breath: would the community respond? So many more families – more than they even dreamed of – could be helped if the number was reached.

Responding phone calls came in…envelopes were dropped off in the midst of the erev chag craze…and the goal was hit! B’chasdei Hashem, the total was an amazing half a million dollars for the tzarchei Yom Tov of Lakewood’s yungeleit.

“One of our main tenets,” says co-founder Rabbi Chaim Bornstein, “is that the recipients shouldn’t realize that they’re receiving a check from us. That was a stipulation when we first started, and it’s something we hold onto firmly today.”

All of the funds are processed and distributed in a respectful and dignified manner, as befitting the high caliber of individuals for whom they are meant.

“The amazing thing about this kupah,” notes Rabbi Reidler, “is that the large majority of our total is made up of small donations from individuals around town. We don’t run off of big contributions, but from a few dollars here and a few dollars there: they really do all add up! Every dollar bill that is given to Kupas Yom Tov is what is giving the campaign hatzlacha.”

Residents of Lakewood have been so moved by the idea of supporting bnei Torah in this manner that they took it upon themselves to collect for Kupas Yom Tov, outside their own shul or by going around to their neighbors. Yungeleit have mentioned to the kupah’s founders that they save up their tzedakah money throughout the year to be able to contribute to Kupas Yom Tov.

The indefatigable Kupas Yom Tov team – who invest their heart and soul into the campaign’s success each season, on a completely voluntary basis – attribute all of the kupah’s hatzlacha to siyata d’Shmaya and this incredible “team effort” that they see from the Lakewood community.

“It’s something that nobody can take credit for personally,” says Rabbi Kalmanowitz. “It’s b’chlal a tremendous amount of yungeleit and balabatim who band together and get involved to help, and it’s from the people around town giving whatever they can.”

One donor summed up the feelings of many in a post-Yom Tov text message to Kupas Yom Tov: “Thank you so much for giving me the zechus.”

To join in the zechus, checks can be made payable to “Kupas Yom Tov” and mailed to Kupas Yom Tov, c/o Horav Malkiel Kotler, 521 Fifth Street, Lakewood, NJ 08701 or called in 24 hours a day to 732-334-0050.