With Older Generation Decimated By COVID, Young Frum Israelis Struggle

[COMMUNICATED] Locals in the Geulah neighborhood know the routine: Each morning as the day begins, a line of people forms outside of a modest residential building. In the hottest days of the summer and the coldest of the winter, they gather, waiting. One by one, they are addressed by a man with a clipboard who ushers them in. Once their time comes, they sit across from the man whose name is revered worldwide: Rav Yaakov Hillel. Rav Hillel greets visitors with warmth and seriousness. During his brief visiting hours he consults them regarding their deepest crises and questions. With an open heart he gives them his blessing and counsel. Once visiting hours end, the Rav returns to his intensive learning schedule, where he is known to study the deepest depths of the Torah. This is the life of a “Gadol”: Not a moment is spared for frivolity. The Rav’s life belongs to his learning, and the community. Having heard the deepest secrets of those in pain and poverty for decades, it is remarkable that recently the Rav had a visitor whose story took him aback.

The visitor was a representative of a group of nearly 30 brides and grooms who will be getting married this month. Each of these couples has lost their parents, and each has a unique story of loss and grief. Due to the pandemic, many are unemployed. The couples have delayed their weddings, and will not be able to get married and start a home without the help of strangers.

Rav Hillel was so moved by this cause, he wrote the following letter to the public (read Hebrew here):

“Rosh Chodesh Shevat 5781

They are getting married after living the hard and bitter lives of orphans, and it is a great mitzvah to help these orphans build a true Torah home….

The Father of all orphans will repay [donors to their wedding fund], you should be saved from all illness and hardship, you should have abundant financial success and all your requests should be fulfilled for the good. You should merit to raise all your children with health and nachas, and bring them to their chuppah and good deeds, amen.

Yaakov Hillel”

Donations will go toward simple weddings for the 29 couples, as well as meals for ‘sheva brachot,’ and basic furnishings for their first homes. Though they have all had the life-changing trauma of losing their parent, Rav Hillel has stepped in to be a father figure, and invites the rest of the Jewish People to join their ‘family’ as well.

The opportunity to stand in line and gain the audience of Rav Hllel is a rare and precious thing. Regardless of their location in the world, however, donors to the orphan wedding fund will be prayed for by the Rav, as well as receiving his blessing. This chance to connect oneself to one of the most regarded and exclusive Torah scholars in the world can be taken here for a limited time.

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