Thursday, October 20, 2005

The link above will bring you to the e-version of one of our local weeklies, חדשות העיר.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Another Reason to Live in Tzfat

Tzfat is the home town of Supermodel Hava Mond.

If you come you may catch a glimpse of her on a visit home from Milan or Paris or New York or...

Hava was named one of Tzfat's Persons of the Year this year.

This is Hava Mond, Tzfat's claim to fame:

The Micol HaLev Charity

Reasons To Live In Tzfat? YAY! There are some!

This is the type of thing that will never be broadcast in the major world media, but I think it is of tremendous import.

A new charity program, called Micol HaLev (From the Whole Heart) was devised and launched in my home town, Tzfat, of which I am very proud.

It is a charity set up to help provide food and necessities for needy individuals and families. The fund is named after Rav Lev Bistritsky, who was the Chief Ashkanazi Rabbi of Tzfat until he passed away at a young age a few years ago.

The charity fund works by buying a membership for 18 shekels per month. That money goes directly to the charity. In return, the membership holder receives discounts at several dozen stores, restaraunts, optometrists, etc., in Tzfat that have voluntarily reduced their prices for card holders so that they can get goods they need at discount prices. They are doing this because the economy in Israel is very difficult now and almost everyone is having trouble making ends meet. The discounts range from 3% to 25% depending upon the business. Effectively, people are buying discounts for themselves from participating businesses in exchange for giving 18 NIS per month to needy families. We are all benefitting from one another's need and helping one another out mutually.

Further to this new Tzaeddakah:

They were on vacation during the High Holiday season. They are back now.

They've been calling people asking if they want to join.

You can reach them via

I received my card recently and took it to Cafe Bagdad. They were delighted to receive it and said that they'll be happy to give the 10% discount to anyone who presents the card.

The first card you receive is a temporary card. That's just until they verify that the bank order or credit card info you gave them is OK. Then they send the regular card in a short while. Most places accept the temporary card. Shefa Shuk accepts only the permanent card.

In addition to the businesses that are already on the list as participating in the program, three more have joined:

Super Birkat HaShem on Moshav Or HaGanuz - 3% discount.

Super Birkat HaShem in Chatzor HaGlilit - 3% discount.

The Shiv'at Deganim Bakery - 10% discount. On purchases of more than 100 NIS they'll give you Ugat Muffins for 3 NIS.

I think this is one of the nicest things that a community has undertaken to do.

Making it a success will be a boon to everyone - most especially to the needy in Tzfat and the environs.

Tzfat is a town of 30,000 people and most of the residents know one another. Many residents' families have lived here since the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Portugal. The small size of the town and the intimacy is conducive to allowing programs like this to be launched. Actually, though, there is no reason why the program cannot be reproduced in the neighborhoods of large towns and cities.

Tzfat has a long and illustrious history of being a place in which the poor were well taken care of. Widows, orphans and others in need were aided in a way that not only gave them what they needed, but preserved their dignity. For instance, there was a large charity box that was sent up that a person put their hand directly into. No one knew if the person putting their hand into the box was depositing or withdrawing.

There are over 100 charity funds and programs in Tzfat today. There are free loan societies that lend money without interest and there are people who lend goods to people in need for no charge. Anything from baby pacifiers to drills to books on health can be borrowed for free from the people who operate the various programs during their free time and gratis. We have a special fund to make weddings for indigent brides they can be proud of. The woman who runs that program owns a second hand store. Part of the revenues from the store, which is a charity program in and of itself, go toward the Brides' Fund. A wealthy couple opened a home for unwed young women who are pregnant and wish to keep their babies. There they are housed, counseled and either placed in an appropriate educational setting or in a vocational training program so that they may be self-sufficient and can take care of their babies after they are born.