Hosting Seders for Ukrainian Refugees in Israel Since 1788 – Sponsored Content
Every Jew should feel like royalty at the Passover Seder. Refugees from Ukraine are no exception. And the royal treatment is what some 4,500 refugees will receive on Friday evening, April 15, as Colel Chabad welcomes them to its 234th annual public Passover Seder.
If there’s one “brand” that keeps coming up in all the reporting on Ukrainian refugees, it’s Chabad. In Ukraine, Romania, Moldova, Poland, Germany and Hungary, Chabad is there to help everyone – not just Jews – as they escape the terrifying invasion.
In Israel, Colel Chabad, the Chabad-Lubavitch welfare network, welcomes these refugees with open arms, new clothes and nutritional security – no questions asked.
Ukrainian refugees may be news to most people. But at Colel Chabad, it’s a story that dates back to the founding of the organization 234 years ago by Chabad’s founder, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.
Since then the purpose of Colel Chabad has been to provide for the needy in Eretz Israel – now Israel – especially those who arrived as penniless refugees from hostile environments abroad.
Often – too often – that hostile environment has been Ukraine, where Jews have historically been persecuted and victimized by poverty, pogroms and, of course, during the Holocaust.
Because Jews from Ukraine (and everywhere else) have been arriving as penniless refugees in Israel for over two centuries, Colel Chabad has always been there for them. Indeed, when the State of Israel was established in 1948, most of its Jewish population was of Eastern European descent, primarily from Ukraine. For more than two centuries, these Ukrainian Jewish refugees have always been able to find a warm smile and a helping hand through Colel Chabad.
In each successive generation, Colel Chabad has always remained the personal tsedakah of the Lubavitcher Rebbe at that time. Under the leadership of the seventh Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the organization reached far greater heights, making it not only the oldest but the largest and most multifaceted social welfare network in Israel. .
Today, Colel Chabad is the designated partner of the Israeli government in the effort to ensure nutritional security for ALL Israelis, Jews and non-Jews. The organization maintains a nationwide food delivery and voucher program that reaches thousands of deserving households throughout the year. Thousands more are served during peak holidays, such as Rosh Hashanah and Passover. In addition, Colel Chabad maintains a network of 22 free soup kitchens disguised as quality restaurants. Here, the needy are graciously welcomed and served a hot, nutritious meal as guests of honor – no questions asked, ever.
Colel Chabad adheres to two cardinal principles. The first: assistance is provided to people in need, regardless of their sex, age, ethnic origin or degree of religious practice. The second: all aid is provided in a way that not only preserves but enhances the dignity of the recipient.
Today, Colel Chabad sits astride a multifaceted network of institutions and services for people in need. These include:
A network of modern nurseries for the care of children of poor working mothers. In the past, too many young mothers could not work and support their families because they had young children at home. Colel Chabad Daycares allow these moms to be proudly self-sufficient and enjoy peace of mind knowing their little ones are lovingly cared for while they work.
Advanced treatment for sufferers of multiple sclerosis and other degenerative diseases. Colel Chabad’s two inpatient/outpatient centers in Migdal HaEmek and Jerusalem have set the standard for making life meaningful and productive for those who suffer from these dreaded diseases.
Holistic care for widows and orphans. For Colel Chabad, helping orphan families means much more than material help. It means doing whatever is necessary to enable a widow/widow and her children to live a normal life. This includes holiday retreats for widowed mothers, summer and winter camps for fatherless children, private lessons, music lessons, psychotherapy and big siblings for children, preparation bar/bat mitzvah and a national celebration for orphaned boys and girls.
Significant activities and support for immigrant seniors. For older refugees, life in a new country can be incredibly daunting. Colel Chabad maintains a network of senior centers where these men and women can spend their days in the company of their peers and enjoy a fresh, hot lunch, special classes, outings and other leisure activities.
Subsidized weddings for poor brides. Colel Chabad maintains two beautiful wedding venues in Jerusalem where needy young couples can wed in style.
Interest-free loans. Too often, the only thing that stands in the way of poverty and independence is the inability to obtain financing to start a small business or vocational training. Colel Chabad makes interest-free loans available to deserving men and women who wish to fend for themselves.
Pediatric dental clinics. Colel Chabad pioneered free dental clinics and mobile dental units to meet the needs of poor children. In the past, children from poor homes were forced to neglect their teeth because dental care was beyond their parents’ means. Today, these children can benefit from free preventive and basic dental care and hygiene by visiting a Colel Chabad pediatric dental clinic.
Colel Chabad is a proud and venerable Chabad-Lubavitch project. His efforts are made possible by the generosity of friends and donors – Jewish and Gentile – around the world. Without them, none of the above would be possible. Colel Chabad can grow exponentially through such generosity. And because donors know that not a penny is wasted. Colel Chabad operates on one of the leanest operating budgets in the charitable world.
If you would like to learn more about Colel Chabad and how you can be a partner in doing good in the world, please visit www.colelchabd.org. And have a sweet and joyful Passover.