JERUSALEM- The fact that students at the Rambam Mesivta in Lawrence have raised almost two and a half million Dollars for the families of the victims of the Har Nof massacre goes to show that people in the Diaspora care about their brothers in Israel, Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Zev Friedman told the Five Towns Jewish Times.
In Israel to meet with the families of the victims of the November 18 terror attack that left four orthodox Jews and a Druze police officer, Friedman said that funds are being set up for the children of each of the victims and that such efforts are a form of emotional support for those who lost loved ones.
During his trip, Friedman, who learned in Yeshiva with Rabbi Moshe Twersky, one of the victims, visited the families of those killed in the attack and brought tidings from the students in his Long Island yeshiva.
“Despite the fact that we brought money and distributed it, I can tell you looking at the apartments, looking at the way they live, looking at their response, their lives were not about money. They lived simple lives and lives of very rich values and the money was viewed not as money but rather they saw the money as an expression of love and connection to Jews around the world and that was exactly the intention of doing it,” he explained.
The morning of the attack, Friedman held an assembly in the yeshiva.
“We went on to discuss the tragedy and towards the end we said have to do something, we cant just sit here and bemoan the fact of the tragedy,” he recalled.
“I said I think we should set up a fund to help the orphans of the families. even the mere fact that we are giving them something shows that jews across the world care for them.”
Around an hour later, Rabbi Rabbi Aryeh Young, a tenth grade rebbe, approached Friedman, saying that his students had come up with the idea of crowdfunding aid online.
“After the first day we raised about 12,000 dollars which really shocked. All the boys in the school put it on their Facebook pages and on Twitter and social media and talked about how this is an important thing to do to help the orphans and to provide the families. The next day it went up to eighteen thousand,” Friedman said.
Rabbi Young then connected with New York businessman Ira Zlotowitz, who pledged to match donations raised by the students.
“I will match your 28,000 that they had already raised, he told them at the time,” Friedman said.
The Orthodox Union later got involved, promoting the crowdfunding efforts and leading to millions of Dollars in donations.
“I didn’t think kids our age could make raise that much money by starting a website,” one student told the Jerusalem Post.
The students did not limit their aid to their fellow orthodox Jews, however, also providing for the family of Druze policeman Zidan Saif, a first responder who was killed during the attack.
“We said we have to help him, he is also a victim of terror,” Friedman recalled.
By Sam Sokol