Established by the founder of Chabad Lubavitch, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi in 1788, Colel Chabad is among the oldest Jewish charitable foundations still in existence today. Colel Chabad’s mission is to offer direct, meaningful help to Jews in Israel and the former Soviet Union regardless of background or affiliation. Headed by the Lubavitcher Rebbes of each generation, the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, maintained the tradition of bestowing a special blessing upon those who support Colel Chabad’s banquet of philanthropic activities.
Feeding the Hungry
Colel Chabad’s twelve soup kitchens are open year round. They can be found in central Jerusalem, Jerusalem’s Old City opposite the Western Wall, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Safed and Lod. Colel Chabad’s soup kitchens in the former Soviet Union are located in Minsk, Belarus, and Donetsk, Ukraine, feeding 1,000 people in five dining halls and with meal deliveries to the homebound. In some, service is family style. Others offer a restaurant setting. Each strives to provide warm, nourishing meals in a dignified manner. Approximately 2500 meals are served each day. Half are portioned out in the soup kitchen dining halls while the rest are delivered to homebound clients. Last year some 793,500 meals were served at a net cost of $1,271,500.
In addition to the soup kitchens, Colel Chabad distributes packages filled with nutritious foods to 400 needy families each month. Before Passover, a major fundraising effort in Israel enables Chabad to provide 20 tons of meat and chicken and 10 tons of matzah to families in need at 50% below the original cost. In Ukraine, Chabad emissaries distribute 14 tons of matzah, 1,500 liters of kosher wine and 23,000 liters of kosher grape juice. Chabad also hosts more than 30 Passover Seders that attract 2,500 Jews throughout Russia and Ukraine.
As demand for kosher food has grown in Ukraine, Chabad built an infrastructure for kosher food production. A shochet from Colel Chabad oversees kosher meat production and is part of the organization that certifies kosher products in Ukraine.
Medical and Dental Care
Professional care is provided free of charge or on a sliding scale to those in need at Chabad’s Grabski Medical Clinic in Safed which aids a roster of 1,700 needy families. There is a dental clinic on site whose two dental chairs are filled by 350 per month for a total of 4,500 annual visits. Traffic picks up considerably at Chabad’s Konigsberg Pediatric Dental Clinic in Jerusalem that helps 1,200 patients per month with a total of 15,000 patients seen per year. In addition, Chabad’s mobile dental clinics – some shielded with bullet proof glass – improve the dental health of 800 children throughout Israel including those who live in the strife ridden areas of Hebron and Samaria.
Children ravaged by the affects of multiple sclerosis live in a warm home atmosphere at Chabad’s Grabski Rehabilitation Center in Midgal Haemek, Israel. Fifty children receive care, food, education and therapy at the center.
Caring for Children
Chabad helps parents with the expenses inherent in raising a family. In sunny rooms painted in charming colors, Colel Chabad cares for 475 Jewish children in four beautiful day care centers. Children receive warm and loving care in these centers at a cost that indigent parents can manage. Parents at the head of 1,300 families receive food and clothing vouchers from Chabad before Passover and the High Holidays. Through partnerships with area retailers, the Colel Chabad Card entitles 3,500 families to receive 20-30% discounts on hats, shoes and everything in between. When boys reach the age of bar mitzvah, Chabad also provides them with tefillin. Before school begins, Chabad distributes school supplies. Throughout the winter, Chabad provides warm blankets and heating oil to 200 people each year.
In Ukraine, fifty children are being raised in Chabad’s two orphanages, Keren L’Yedidut Warm House for Boys and Keren L’Yedidut Warm House for Girls. All expenses: clothing, education, medical and psychological care are absorbed by Chabad. Life in the orphanages goes beyond basic care. Cultural activities, overnight trips, outings, concerts and summer camp are all part of life at the Chabad homes.
Volunteers and staff members of Colel Chabad visit some 1,600 hospitalized children on a regular basis and bring them holiday treats and gifts throughout the year. Before Chanukah and Purim, Chabad’s volunteers put together parties with music and games in the pediatric wings of hospitals throughout Israel. Children throughout the world know that Chabad cares about them.
Services for Widows and Orphans
Since the beginning of Colel Chabad priority has been given to meeting the needs of widows and orphans. Today 90 widows and 440 orphans rely on Chabad to help them make it through life’s travails and expenses. Not only does Chabad provide cash grants and interest-free loans to these families, they offer big brother and big sister programs, pay for psychological counseling, and sponsor camp scholarships for the kids and respite retreats for their mothers. Wedding costs of orphaned children are offset by 75% through use of Chabad’s two wedding halls, Hadar Hall and Gutnick Hall in Jerusalem.
Helping Immigrants in Israel
Immigrants from the former Soviet Union find a warm welcome in Israel through Chabad’s many programs. At the Blavatnik Absorption Center in Jersulem’s Rabinovich Synagogue 5,000 new immigrants receive employment counseling each year. The center also provides day time care and food for 60 older immigrants every day. Younger immigrants, about 1000 per year, enter adulthood through Chabad’s bar and bat mitzvah training program that culminates in a mass celebration at the Western Wall. Over Passover, 8,000 new Russian immigrants attend Chabad’s free Seders, receiving a taste of tradition and a Jewish experience in their native language. Young immigrants can find an outlet for their desire to be on the giving end of the generosity equation at Chabad’s leadership training institutes in Migdal HaEmek and Jerusalem. Eighty five rabbinical students study for their place at the pulpit at these special Chabad yeshivot. Women are given a parallel opportunity for developing their talents at Chabad’s Fenya Krugman Jewish Women’s Leadership Institute where they study Hebrew on beginning, intermediate and advanced levels that enables them to seek higher education in the field of their choice.
Religious Life in Ukraine
The rebirth of Jewish life in Ukraine has awakened the population to the need for Jewish basics: mikvahs, yeshivas and holiday services. Chabad built a mikvah in Donetsk, Ukraine, and another in Minsk, Belarus. They also opened yeshivas in Zhitomir and Donietsk, Ukraine; Nizni-Novgorod, Russia; and Minsk, Belarus. Through an initiative of the Rohr Fund, Chabad sends rabbinical students to 184 outlying communities in Ukraine before the High Holidays.