By Rochelle Maruch Miller
Avigdor’s Helping Hand is an exemplar of chesed, an organization like no other, whose essence is to render succor and support during those first moments when tragedy strikes, R’l. They are often the first call a family makes when suffering the loss of a loved one. A disaster-relief fund, Avigdor’s Helping Hand has been picking up the pieces and rebuilding shattered lives, one at a time, with compassion and respect.
Avigdor’s Helping Hand is a veritable lifeline for bereaved families in their darkest hours. Visit the AHH website (www.avigdorshelpinghand.org) and you will surely be touched, as was this writer, by the many beautiful, heartfelt letters of appreciation from individuals and families who have been helped by this outstanding chesed organization.
Everything is done with kavod and tzniyus, with the utmost degree of respect and modesty, so the letters remain anonymous. The following two letters speak volumes of AHH’s exemplary efforts in helping orphans build batei ne’eman b’Yisrael.
“Dear Mr. Eli Glaser and the entire staff of Avigdor’s Helping Hand,” writes the grateful mother of a recently married daughter. “From the bottom of my heart I would like to thank everyone who made my daughter’s wedding a beautiful possibility. Because of you and your generous ‘gift,’ my daughter was married last Wednesday with dignity and with her head held high. This would not have been possible without your generous help.
“I am in and out of the hospital, undergoing painful chemotherapy. Only with chasdei Hashem was I allowed to come out and take my daughter to her chuppah. Without her father, and with her mother confined to the hospital, I was unable to shop for her and do all the things that a mother does with her daughter for her wedding. With your help, she was able to get a wedding gown and all the necessities for her big day.
“Words cannot express my feelings for your generous chesed and help. May Hashem always help you continue this important work. I know the difference it made in our lives. There is no one more deserving of your chesed than my daughter, who does so much chesed of her own. She thanks you also from the bottom of her heart.
“I pray for a recovery so that I may one day repay you for your kindness. In the meantime, I can only thank you again from the depths of my heart for allowing my daughter to get married with dignity and a wonderful start on a new life. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
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“To the incredible volunteers of Avigdor’s Helping Hand,” writes another grateful beneficiary. “Not long ago, I received a check in the mail. This was no ordinary check. Yes, it provided me with tremendous financial assistance I very much needed; however, this check gave me so much more than that. That tiny piece of paper brought a sense of relief and lifted a huge burden off my shoulders. There are no words to express how much hakaras ha’tov [I have] for every single person who has helped me through their dedicated efforts on behalf of Avigdor’s Helping Hand.
“Making a Jewish wedding is no small feat. Baruch Hashem, I come from a loving home, I have three younger siblings and, up until five years ago, [had] two loving parents. In July 2008, my mother returned to her Creator at a young age after a four-year battle with cancer. That left my family emotionally, physically, and financially depleted. My father does everything he can to provide for me and my three siblings. Wedding expenses are just out of his capabilities.
“A little over a year ago, my sister, b’H, got engaged. My father really had nothing to give and so I took it upon myself to find the much-needed finances. I wanted to make sure my sister wouldn’t have to stress as a kallah and that my father would not have to feel embarrassed about not being able to provide financially. Baruch Hashem for your incredible organization; a huge load was taken off and I was able to hand my father a sizable amount of money to be able to help out with the wedding.
“I knew at that point that iy’H when my time came there would be financial help out there for me. Baruch Hashem, this past March I became engaged to an incredible guy. My chasan’s family was amazing when he explained my family’s financial situation to them. They are not wealthy in any way, yet they took the financial burden upon themselves and told me not to worry about anything. As amazing as it was, it left me with a guilty feeling. It wasn’t fair to leave the entire burden on them. When I received the call that Avigdor’s Helping Hand would be providing me with $5,000, I can’t tell you the relief and happiness that flooded me. I was able to pay my in-laws back, even just a fraction of the money they have been spending on this wedding.
“The way that Avigdor’s Helping Hand has dealt with me has been in such a pleasant and kavoddikeh manner that I never once felt embarrassed or ashamed that I had to ask for financial help. To my knowledge, AHH is the only organization out there that helps provide actual financial assistance in making the wedding itself. I cannot tell you how much you have helped my family alone. I can only imagine how many other chasanim and kallahs out there don’t feel alone and abandoned because of the effort every single one of you puts into the organization. Thank you a million times over for everything you have done for me and my family.”
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Through its wedding program, the organization provides financial assistance to orphans who are approaching their simchas. All too often, what should be the happiest time of their young lives is, instead, marred by pressure and financial distress. Compounded by the loss of one or both parents, the poverty creates an untenable situation. Avigdor’s Helping Hand provides funds to qualified yesomim, thereby alleviating their anxiety.
The organization is named for Avigdor Glaser, z’l. He was the essence of a ben Torah. Adored by his wife Frumi and their three children, beloved by his parents and siblings, and blessed with the ability to succeed in all of his endeavors, he touched the hearts of all who knew him.
After studying in Merkaz HaTorah in Eretz Yisrael, he pursued his undergraduate studies at Queens College, and then went on to Fordham Law School, where he graduated at the top of his class. Brilliant and gifted, yet unassuming and personable, this extraordinary young man was a successful bankruptcy attorney at a prestigious Manhattan law firm.
Avigdor was just 30 years old when he passed away on September 29, 2005, leaving his family devastated. His petirah left a terrible void in the entire community. Overwhelmed though they were with grief, Avigdor’s family and friends immediately sought to create a charity that would perpetuate his precious life and be a treasured legacy for this exemplary ba’al chesed. For Frumi, the most fitting legacy to memorialize her beloved husband would be a chesed organization that would offer comfort to grieving families during a time of chaos and intense, unbearable pain. Thus was Avigdor’s Helping Hand established.
We all know of families that have suffered the tragic loss of the primary wage-earning husband or wife, leaving the surviving spouse and children bereft and in unbearable pain. They are people whose lives were similar to our own until tragedy struck, wreaking havoc.
For those left behind, the effects of such a loss are devastating: children bereft of their precious parents, wives without their beloved husbands, and husbands without their cherished wives. Even before the economic impact begins to engulf them, the magnitude of their suffering is too much to bear.
Even where insurance or governmental assistance is available, it may often take weeks or months for these benefits to be processed and made accessible to the family. Avigdor’s Helping Hand seeks to provide immediate short-term financial relief to the families in our community who have suffered the recent loss of their primary breadwinner.
“Everything is done according to da’as Torah,” Eli Glaser, Avigdor’s father, told the 5TJT. “Among the esteemed rabbanim who are our rabbinic advisers are Rabbi Noach Isaac Oelbaum, who is our posek; Rabbi Yakov Friedman; Rabbi Yisroel Reisman; Rabbi Henach Savitsky; and Rabbi Peretz Steinberg. We consult with them whenever a sheilah arises.”
Avigdor’s Helping Hand has dispensed $3.7 million, made approximately 545 weddings for orphans, and helped 150 qualified families who have suffered the tragic loss of a spouse. Each applicant is required to submit two letters with the application: one from their rabbi, the second from a chesed organization. The application is carefully reviewed; rabbis and other references are called.
“Every application involves an intense due-diligence process,” Eli explains. “We have established a committee to evaluate each applicant with the utmost degree of confidentiality and sensitivity. We step in immediately with a cash stipend to provide the spouse and family with financial support. Every application is reviewed with complete confidentiality, and all details are handled b’derech kavod and with dignity.”
Featured on the website is a berachah from the Bostoner Rebbe, shlita, who had advised a family to contact this outstanding organization. The money is discretionary and may be used to offset any expense such as food, housing costs, mortgage payments, childcare, utility payments, etc. Every donation to Avigdor’s Helping Hand goes directly and completely to providing emergency financial assistance to the families. Unique in its noble mission, AHH is truly an organization like no other, operating with no paid staff and no overhead.
For the dedicated volunteers who give selflessly of themselves, AHH is a labor of love. “The devotion of our dedicated volunteers is immeasurable,” Eli says. “They are doctors, lawyers, businessmen and women, hedge-fund managers working long hours, with young families to support. Each volunteer has a unique job, which is performed with such dedication. They tell us how their lives have changed, of the tremendous chizuk they are getting as a result of being part of Avigdor’s Helping Hand.
“Every one of these wonderful young people is our partner. They are the reason, b’ezras Hashem, for our success. Because of them, every cent of your donation goes directly to help the widows and orphans. We have no overhead. Everything is done in its entirety by volunteers. . . . We are honored to be receiving tremendous accolades every day and are have been guided by da’as Torah since the beginning.”
You are cordially invited to enjoy an elegant evening of world-class cuisine by the inimitable Michael Schick, accompanied by relaxing music, at the Ninth Annual Avigdor’s Helping Hand Gala Labor Day Barbecue. The event will take place iy’H on Monday, September 1, at 7:00 p.m. at the Moradi residence, 72 Muriel Drive in Lawrence. Always a not-to-be-missed event, this enchanting evening will feature an exciting Chinese auction with a fabulous array of upscale prizes reflecting the latest trends in technology. You’ll find something for everyone! It’s a win-win situation—by supporting Avigdor’s Helping Hand you are performing chesed in its purest form.
“We are honored and fortunate that David and Bilhah Moradi will be graciously hosting our event in their beautiful home for the eighth consecutive year,” says Eli. “They are an integral and treasured part of our AHH family.”
Please show your support for this exemplary chesed organization by gracing the event of the year with your presence. To help AHH in any way or to obtain additional information, please call 718-568-9720 or visit www.avigdorshelpinghand.org. Tizku l’mitzvos! v
By Rochelle Maruch Miller