Shopper Article

Kupas Yom Tov Launches Community-wide Fundraising Effort to Help More Bnei Torah for Pesach

By: Shimmy Blum

You can’t find parking. Lines at the stores are busier. Traffic is heavier. The lights are on in homes around you into the late evening hours…

You can sense the pre-Pesach rush wherever in Lakewood you may be, for weeks already.

The groceries are busier. The cleaners are busier. The homeware stores are busier. The clothing stores are busier. Homes are filled with a cleaning frenzy.

There are many families within our midst, however, that face a particularly heavy obstacle this time of the year. They need to prepare the same the rest of us do, yet cannot go about it.

A significant segment of the thousands of families of bnei Torah that are the pride of the Lakewood community just about make it to cover the necessary expenses day to day expenses.  The thousands of dollars in additional expenses that come up during the Yom Tov season for their large families, is a bridge too far.

A Grassroots Project Rises to the Challenge

It is hard to find any Lakewood family, at any income level, that isn’t eager to offer some level of financial assistance to their choshuve neighbors.

For the past two years, “Kupas Yom Tov” has served as the reliable resource to perform this lifeline of a chessed.  It operates on a simple premise: Bnei Hayeshiva helping each other so that true Simchas Yom Tov can be enjoyed by all.

It was just over two years ago, two days before Purim, and the Lakewood community was hit with an excruciating double tragedy: The sudden tragic passing of a chashuve yungerman, Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Rosengarten z”l, a father of five; and a beloved nine year old boy, Eliyahu Eliezer Raitzik a”h in one day.

The loss of these precious neshamos shook the entire community to the core. At an impromptu meeting , with some yungeleit in Yeshiva it was decided that an original, crucial chessed infrastructure would be launched in Lakewood l’iluy nishmas Reb Shlomo Zalman and Eli, zichronam livracha.

Given the time of year, helping local bnei Torah make Pesach was the obvious path – and the yungerleit immediately got to work. With the enthusiastic support of the Roshei Yeshiva shlit”a; the Rosengarten and Raitzik families; and various askanim; this kupah was launched.

$90,000 Spirals to $250,000 and Counting

Pesach 5774 was merely a few short weeks away. The “fundraising campaign” consisted of several yungerleit with envelopes and credit card machines standing outside all BMG batei midrashim at the end of seder, as well as collecting in Satmar Bais Medrash and Kol Shimshon through early morning hours.

“There are many great chessed causes,” observes Reb Chaim Bornstein, a yungerman involved with Kupas Yom Tov and other local causes, “but fundraising is usually a major struggle. It is remarkable to me how enthusiastic people are to donate to Kupas Yom Tov.”

Within a few short weeks, this effort raised approximately $90,000. Virtually all of the money came from small donations, heartfully donated by kollel yungerleit and grassroots baalei batim. 

As word about Kupas Yom Tov spread, Lakewood residents jumped at the opportunity to participate in what they all knew in their hearts was long overdue. Yungerleit and baalebatim eagerly went over to the askanim to donate whatever they were able to. Several Lakewood baalebatim, even some from outside Lakewood, who were not even approached, contacted the askanim to donate.

And the numbers speak for themselves. Ever since Pesach 5774, Kupas Yom Tov helped families before every Succos and Pesach. The parameters of the campaign remained similar – a very modest grassroots operation – but the amount raised went up by approximately $50,000 from Yom Tov to Yom Tov, virtually all in small donations.

For Succos of this year, approximately $250,000 was raised.

“There is the sense that we are doing something to help our friends and neighbors whom we hold dear and admire, and people are naturally motivated for that,” explains Reb Mechel Reidler, another Kupas Yom Tov askan.

Pesach 5776 – Calling on the Broader Lakewood Community to Join

With the needs of Lakewood’s constantly growing population of bnei Torah, and the expenses of their individual families rising, Kupas Yom Tov has undertaken to take its campaign to the next level and raise more money before the upcoming Pesach, and the years ahead, b’ezras Hashem.

For this Pesach campaign, the askanim hope to raise at least $360,000 for Kupas Yom Tov. This is ambitious to be sure, but realistic if a broader segment of the Lakewood community, particularly Kollel alumni and other baalebatim, participate in greater numbers – even with relatively modest donations.

There are hundreds of more local families who could use this assistance, and the larger families among them could use larger stipends. Simply put, the more money that is raised in this campaign, the more of our friends and neighbors can be helped, and in more significant ways.

A broad number of yungerleit, enthusiastically supported by the Roshei Yeshiva shlit”a, local rabbanim, roshei chabura, and askanim, are involved in this effort. In addition to the grassroots collecting in BMG and other large batei midrashim, Kupas Yom Tov encourages tax-deductible donations from individuals throughout Lakewood and beyond via a 24 hour donation hotline, and by mail (addressed envelope included with The Shopper).

Every donation, every dollar, is an integral part of increasing simchas Yom Tov for the bnei Torah, along with their wives and children, who make Lakewood so proud. It also serves an integral role l’iluy nishmas Rabbi Rosengarten and Eli Raitzik, zichronam livracha, and offers an inestimable amount of chizuk to their family members and friends.

Rabbi Shabsi Raitzik, father of Eli z”l, recalls the initial Kupas Yom Tov campaign two years ago, within the Shloshim of his son’s petirah. Many of the donations came along with personal letters of nechama regarding the tragedy.

The Raitzik family still treasures those letters and occasionally read them over. They see the Kupas Yom Tov program as an increasingly powerful tribute to Eli’s neshama. “Every Yom Tov when yungerleit are helped through the program,” Reb Shabsi says, “brings the nechama to the fore again.”

Chag kosher v’sameach!

Tax deductible checks payable to “Kupas Yom Tov” can be mailed to Kupas Yom Tov. c/o Horav Malkiel Kotler, 521 5th Street, Lakewood, NJ 08701, or Kupas Yom Tov, c/o Horav Shabsi Raitzik, 919 Central Avenue, Lakewood, NJ 08701. Donations can also be called in 24 hours to 732-334-0050.