The Hebrew word “Tzedakah” is translated to mean “charity” - a benevolent act of generosity toward the poor or needy.
In fact, the word is derived from its root, “tzedek” – meaning “justice” or “fairness” and it is this sense of justice that underpins the obligation of every Jew to ensure that the needs of the poor or needy are met.
Within Judaism, giving “charity” is not merely an act of kindness. It is a just obligation. It is an act of righteousness and fairness. It is the performance of a duty to ensure that those in need are cared for.
It is hard to believe, but often recipients to the Fund are the unassuming people living next door to us or playing with our children in the school playground daily!
Mr S is a father of 3 young children who has been threatened with eviction if he does not pay the overdue rent on their modest East St Kilda flat. Several years ago he was forced to scale back full time employment in order to care for his critically ill wife and following her tragic passing, remains the full time carer for his young family. His Centrelink payments do not cover the mountain of medical bills which remain outstanding, the car registration, gas or electricity bills. Most nights, he and the children eat plain pasta for dinner.
Miss A ran away from an abusive home at 15 but moved from one abusive relationship to another. Recently she developed enough courage to finally leave her violent partner after he physically abused her and their autistic daughter. She lives in a housing commission flat in Springvale but cannot afford the cost of the behavioural therapy that her daughter desperately needs.
Mrs Y is a 48 year old divorced mother of 3 teenage children and a toddler who was forced to rely on our regular rental payments and food vouchers for a number of years. When her toddler started school, Mrs Y resumed part time work and for a while, proudly managed with only sporadic help from us. Her financial independence was tenuous however, so in early 2006, Mrs Y sought our regular financial assistance again in order to study full time and improve her long-term job prospects.
We were delighted - and proud - to report to our donors that Mrs Y graduated as a Bookkeeper in 2008, commenced full-time employment and each year, makes her own generous contribution to the Mizrachi Charity Fund!
D and her younger brother E attend a private Jewish high school and have done so since kindergarten. Their family’s financial and social circumstances altered dramatically two years ago, and whilst their mother is now their sole guardian trying desperately to shield them from the realities of their new existence, she can only do so with regular rental assistance and food vouchers from the Mizrachi Charity Fund.
Each year, the Mizrachi Charity Fund forwards approximately $150,000 in aid to those within our Jewish community who find themselves in dire financial crises. Our funds are used for the relief of poverty, welfare, maintenance, advancement or the education of persons suffering physical and /or economic hardship. Such assistance includes but is not limited to:
Additionally, twice a year, prior to Pesach and Rosh Hashanah, clients are gifted with food and/or funds to assist with the preparations of these Holydays. Working with a network of other community care providers, we are also in a position to direct clients to a wide range of services offering financial planning, counselling, healthcare or vocational training. In addition, a Gemach Fund is able to provide interest free loans to people who need short term assistance resulting from illness, misfortune or simply to assist with the affordability of a new piece of equipment needed in their business, or to meet the cost of a child’s wedding.
Originally formed by the members of the Mizrachi Synagogue Melbourne to assist needy people both locally and in Israel, the Mizrachi Charity Fund has grown significantly in terms of the scope and regularity of assistance provided.
Two appeals for donations are made each year – our Maot Chittin Appeal prior to Pesach and another prior to Rosh Hashanah and it is due primarily to Mizrachi members and generous supporters that we are able to offer much needed relief to those in the wider Jewish Community.
Referrals for assistance are often made by community members but increasingly, many clients are referred to us by Jewish Care and other communal charity providers. Wherever possible we work together in order to maximise the benefits we can provide.
The Mizrachi Charity Fund is supervised by a small management committee. Applications for assistance are handled on a strictly confidential basis.