From Our Mailbox

From Fiveish fan mail to event feedback, Oorah often receives interesting letters in the mail.  But we’ve never received a manilla envelope like the one we did last week.

The envelope was stuffed with handwritten notes composed by the seventh grade students of Yeshivas Mevakshai Hashem. These students are in the midst of a Write-a-thon, a project where students choose an organization and fund-raise for them. The seventh grade class choose Oorah as their favorite organization!

Here are just a few of the beautiful letters we received:

letter4

letter-2

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A Vow Twice Kept

A Vow Twice KeptOur senior account specialist was hard at work calling sponsors past to see if they’d be willing to help sponsor Oorah’s upcoming 2016 auction. She reached one fellow, made her request, and received an unexpected response: He’d be happy to help sponsor this coming Oorah auction, but not until he keeps the neder he made to someone in the Oorah office, this past June.

Now, in case you don’t know, a neder is a vow. And it’s serious stuff. If you make a neder, there’s no getting out of it.

That’s why, most of the time, when people make promises, they end the promise with the words: bli neder, to specify that they’re not making a vow. They do that because you never know what’s going to happen in the future and who knows—maybe something will come up to keep you from keeping that vow. It’s better to be on the safe side and say that your promise is not to be understood as an actual neder.

But this neder, the one this anonymous Oorah sponsor made, was an important one. His father, you see, had been in Auschwitz. Not only was he in Auschwitz, but he was there from the very beginning of the Holocaust.

Arbeit Macht Frei

It is an absolute miracle that any Jew survived the Hell that was Auschwitz, with its starvation diet, rampant disease, hard labor, and torture. But to think that someone survived all that for years on end, is a miracle beyond all miracles.

After Liberation, this man’s father found he was the only person in his family to have survived the war. Moreover, he discovered, the entire Jewish population of the town he came from in Poland, had been completely wiped out. Eviscerated.

He was the sole survivor of his family and of his town. And he was a miracle. As the sole representative of his line and of his town, he remained absolutely and completely frum. Hitler, may his name and memory be erased (yemach shmo) would not have the victory of robbing this Jew of his faith. He had survived for a reason and would not stain the name of his family or the town he came from by leaving his faith by the wayside.

He stayed frum and he was lucky enough to have a son. This son, too, was a faithful Yid, a frum Jew all his life, like his father, and the only frum male to represent his line. This was the sponsor who made the neder, the sponsor our senior account specialist had phoned.  He’d made a neder to Oorah that if any grandsons are born to him, he will give Oorah money to pay for a bris (circumcision) ceremony for an Oorah family.

Bris Mila

And yes! The man was blessed with a grandson last June. Thrilled with this blessing, this continuation of his line, a line of faithful Yidden, they and their faith surviving even through the brimstone of the Holocaust, he called Oorah and arranged to pay for one bris for one Oorah family.

Just as he’d promised.

He’d kept the neder.

Or so he’d thought.

But as it turns out, he wasn’t done yet. Something happened. He received another gift from Hashem, the gift of a second grandson, against all odds. Another miracle.

Bris

As such, the man came to the conclusion that he had not yet fulfilled his neder! He’d vowed to pay for the bris of an Oorah family if only he’d have a grandson and you see, it had happened AGAIN, when he’d thought it never would, the first time around.

How happy he was to continue his line, to have more frum males in the family, and so he asked if he might pay for another bris for another Oorah family.

The only caveat? That Oorah makes sure the Oorah representative he spoke to last June is informed that the neder has been kept. “Now that we’ve taken care of that,” he told the senior account specialist, “We can talk about me sponsoring Oorah’s 2016 auction.”

That is what he said, at any rate, and we, those of us at Oorah, would tend to believe him.

Being that he is a man who keeps his word.

Giving Back

A parent whom Oorah has assisted in the past with tuition while they were struggling financially contacted Oorah and said that now BH business picked up and they don’t feel right taking the scholarship money they would like us to give it to other children who need it. She wanted to know exactly how much we were paying so she can send it to the school. They are really grateful!
Besides Oorah helping them financially Oorah also gave them the realization that Yeshiva is important and that it is worth the money!

Help bring a girl to camp!

UPDATE: Thanks to the incredibly quick and overwhelmingly generous response of our staff, this opportunity is now closed. In one day, we raised enough money to bring “Tamar” to camp.

Sharing a particularly poignant email we at TheZone received recently…

To whom this may concern,

Shalom,

My name is Tamar Cohn*, I’m 15 and i live in a moshav near Jerusalem.I am originally from north London but I have also lived in America for three years and about two years ago i made Aaliyah to Israel.

Recently (for the past year or so) i have really been feeling connected to Judaism and I would really like to have the opportunity to learn more about it. my friends from school and they told me about the zone and what a wonderful experience it was for them to be able to become more connected to judaism.

Unfortunately around the time i found out about the zone my mums health problems flared up again and she was almost rushed in for emergency heart surgery. As you can imagine around this time and leading up to it there were numerous doctors visits, specialist visits and so on. Praying for her is one of the only things that helped me at that time. my family has been, well ,not in the best place financially the past three or four years and so the summer camp I used to attend I haven’t been able to go to for about three years now. Never the less I am trying to be optimistic during these hard times. I had completely given up coming to the zone. But then a few days ago I thought why should I give up? Theres always a way. I have faith. I was wondering if there was any guidance I could have or if there was any possible way I could come to the zone this year. Its like a dream to me. A break from these hard times both in Israel and personally. I’m sure you know whats going on in Israel right now, we are constantly in bomb shelters. During this time i have realized how important my religion is to me and from there i thought of the zone.

Thank you so much for take your time reading this i hope to hear from you soon,

Tamar Cohn

 

*name changed for privacy

 

We are accepting donations to help bring Tamar to camp. To be a part of this great mitzva, contact info@thezone.org

When $4.50 is the Ultimate Donation

Ah, the sincerity of the young.

bag of coins “My seven-year-old daughter ran to me last night with excitement to tell me that her class has been raising some tzedakah money for the past few weeks. When the time came to do the actual mitzvah of giving, they voted on where it should be donated. The winner was none other than OORAH.

I have a bag of change totaling $4.50 (they actually inspired me and it’s up to $5.50) that came from the purest source, worthy do be used for the “Aron Hakodesh” of Oorah.”

– Moshe Franco, Oorah employee

Well, kids, your donation has certainly touched us all. We’re proud and grateful to have been chosen as the recipients of your gift. May we all merit giving with such open arms and full hearts.