A Story of True Purim Joy

Bring an outsider to Boro Park on Purim, and he won't know where to look first. Costumed children, dancing chassidim, and music-blaring vehicles vie for attention. One has to get caught up in it all, despite the impossible traffic. But a careful observer will note that he has not chanced upon a typical reveling community. There's something different here, something strangely unusual. The joy seems to come from a force unprevalent in the general population. It has a lot to do with bags and baskets, and cash flowing from hand to hand. It's the joy of giving.

The joy of giving is not new to Judaism. And on Purim, it reaches new heights. People seem to be driven by one goal on Purim - to give everything they must in order to fulfill the mitzvos of the day. They rush about the streets, delivering mishloach manos and dispensing matanos l'evyonim - gifts to the poor. And from the looks of the troupes of fundraisers traipsing up and down stairs, the giving goes on inside, too.

One group of people rushing about is on a special Purim mission. They travel all over the city, dispensing matanos l'evyonim. They are the Ezras Yisroel volunteers. And they spend the day dispensing the funds entrusted to them.

They distribute funds to people who are truly poor - people who may not have the means to pay for basics. Like rent. Or tuition. Even food. It may be difficult to believe that there are really poor people living in our midst. But Ezras Yisroel has seen it all.

They often see peeling paint, children sleeping on the floor, and icy basement apartments.

"I was horrified to find six children sitting around a broken table eating a can of peas for supper", said one volunteer. "Their mother explained that this week's paycheck paid for a bottle of antibiotics for the baby." All this, in a basement in the heart of a frum Brooklyn community! Ezras Yisroel was able to help this family and others.

Ezras Yisroel is a unique organization founded and endorsed by leading rabbonim. It was a favorite project of Rav Avraham Pam zatzal, who not only placed needy families on the matanos l'evyonim list, but also personally distributed the funds to those families on Purim!

Every person on Ezras Yisroel's list is referred by a rav. That's how this worthy organization ensures that their matanos l'evyonim funds go to true evyonim - really poor people. That's a very important point, considering that in order to fulfill the mitzva of giving gifts to the poor on Purim, the money must go to evyonim.

There's another issue that Ezras Yisroel takes very seriously. The people on their list are poor, it is true, but they are also proud. And many have refused to accept help, although they are clearly suffering. That's where Ezras Yisroel's creativity comes into play. When it comes to getting the money where it is most needed, they let nothing stand in the way. The recipient may find himself holding a cash-filled envelope, without quite knowing how it reached him. In the general hullabaloo of Purim, he most likely won't have much time to ponder the mystery. But he certainly will enjoy the rest of the day much more.

You'll enjoy your Purim more, too, if you give to Ezras Yisroel's matanos l'evyonim campaign. The Rambam says, "There is no greater joy than the joy of gladdening the hearts of the poor, the orphaned, the widowed, … , for he who gladdens their hearts is likened to the shechinah." In fact, the Rambam says that it is better to spend more on the mitzva of matanos l'evyonim than on the mitzvos of mishloach manos and the Purim meal. And certainly, you'll want to ensure that this very important mitzva is performed correctly, by giving your gift to truly poor people, on Purim.

Ezras Yisroel delivers its gifts to the poor on Purim. That's because although tzedakkah is always a mitzva, matanos l'evyonim can only be given on the fourteenth day of Adar.

If you want to fulfill the mitzva of matanos l'evyonim, you can participate in Ezras Yisroel's Purim campaign. You'll know that your money is going to true evyonim, and that it will be delivered on Purim. And you'll also know that because Ezras Yisroel is a volunteer organization, every cent of your gift to the poor will go to the poor. It will never be spent on salaries, or even on postage or office supplies. All of the administrative costs are covered by independent donors, so that your donation goes where you want it.

Ezras Yisroel volunteers will be conducting appeals in many shuls. Please respond generously. The evyonim are counting on them - and on you. Send your tax-deductible contribution to Ezras Yisroel, 4415 14th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11219; or fax your credit card information to 866-871-4104, so that your gift can be forwarded to the poor, hassle-free. You can call Ezras Yisroel at 801- 601-4644, for more information and rabbinical endorsements. Or you may choose to make your donation on our secure server by clicking here.

Make your Purim meaningful and joyous - by gladdening the hearts of the poor, with the help of Ezras Yisroel.