Opinion: Create A Central Kupah l Avi Gutfreund

Like most, I enjoy giving tzedakah to those less fortunate than me. Giving to those who are in financial distress is a privilege which we can all agree makes us and society as a whole better, happier, and more interconnected.

At the same time, I think it is time to change up how tzedakah is given in Lakewood.

On an average night I get anywhere from three to ten meshulachim raising funds for various worthy causes, usually personal struggles and difficulties. The problem is that I don’t have the deep pockets necessary to give each person knocking on my door a decent-sized check. So what ends up happening is that each person, regardless of their circumstances, gets a dollar or two. On busy days I am forced to turn away the meshulachim that come later in the night, making them lose out on funds they could really use. Furthermore, the constant knocking on my door has, like the incessant phone calls I previously wrote about, really cut into the time I get to spend with my family. After speaking to several friends and acquaintances and hearing their agreement with the above, I believe it is time to change our tzedakah-giving system which would make it better for both those giving and receiving.

I believe it is time that a central community Kupah should be created to dole out contributed funds to the needy. Instead of taking days to go door to door collecting a dollar or two at a time, individuals coming to Lakewood to fund their causes and needs can go directly to a board of directors, state their needs, prove their legitimacy (as they already must do), and be given a single check from the entire Lakewood community.

Instituting such a system would streamline the process of making charitable contributions, it would make the prioritization of more serious cases which need more help possible, it would cut the amount of time meshulachim need to spend in a town far from home, and would also decrease the amount of shame they feel each time they knock a door asking for help. On the giver’s side, it would give us more peace of mind knowing that there are a group of people dedicated to giving out our contributions equitably and would provide us some more quiet at night as well.

I know that creating such a system would be a difficult and arduous undertaking – getting a majority of people in Lakewood to agree to a new way of doing things is not a task for the faint-hearted. Even so, I believe the benefits of making these changes would have real long-term positive effects, and is therefore something which should be pursued.


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There are 18 Comments to "Opinion: Create A Central Kupah l Avi Gutfreund"

  • good idea says:

    So where does it stop? Why not let them stay home – they would save on the airfare and be home where they’re most needed – but then why wouldn’t everyone do it?

  • So Do It says:

    So instead of writing about it do it

  • Lkwder says:

    Your not the first to think about such an idea but if you think about it long enough you’ll see its completely impractical. This current system as annoying as it is, seems to work

  • Ruth says:

    Sounds like a good idea but I think enough choices have already been taken away from people. Let’s say I don’t agree with how this central system prioritizes the different needs? Different vaads already control enough around town IMO. I do agree there’s a problem but I don’t think giving the keys of the purse to a specific group is the answer.

  • JustWondering says:

    Theoretically this may make sense, but not for out of town meshulachim. Many people, both overseas and locally need financial help, as things stand right now, it is not particularly easy to collect it, it takes time and effort.

    Now imagine that a central kuppah is collected, and meshulachim just fly in, collect their check then go back home. the amount of people collecting would skyrocket. Imagine, all you have to do, is fly in, pick up your check for $10k, then leave the next day. You could easily triple the amount of meshulachim if not more. Not to say these aren’t all worthy causes, but there are limited resources, and Anei Irchah Kodmim. At least the current system, has the effect of somewhat ensuring that those who collect are truly needy, a lot of hassle if they aren’t.

    Now think about other local organizations. Hachnosos Kallah, Tzorchi Yom Tom, etc. There are many multiple organizations who essentially fill the same function. In many cases, they do not co-ordinate with each, each have their own seperate overhead, fundraisers etc.which lead to inefficiencies.

    For a better word, it can also be taxing on a those who give, to be constantly hounded by various people who are ostensibly collecting for the same thing. That is where a true Kupas Hair would help.

  • me says:

    BIG PROBLEM WITH THIS SYSTEM – it will run out of money before you can blink. If it will be so easy to get a large check there will be 1000s of more people coming to get it. Under the current system, although it is hard for collectors and i feel bad for them and wish they didn’t have to go through it, but it limits the needy to those that need it badly enough to leave their family for a month and travel around town by town

  • Please no says:

    I appreciate the meshulachim coming which gives me an opportunity to decide to whom and how much to give. If you are giving a dollar or two they will stop coming in such high numbers. You can give a lump some to Vaad harabonim or kupat hair that is similar to the Vaad that you are trying to create.

  • Leah says:

    I do not like your idea. I also have children and enjoy spending time with them. In our family we appreciate the knocks on the door. Hashem in Hus kindness gives us so many opportunities to do Chesed. We don’t have to travel to avail ourselves of this mitzvah. It comes to our doorsteps. My kids see the excitement and they are so excited to offer a water bottle. We have Tzesakah vouchers prepared in the kitchen from the donors fund. Please don’t remove these special opportunities.

    • Agree 100% with let them knock on my door says:

      I agree with the last post. Please let meshulachim Knock on my door. I moved to Toms River. When I did I told my father one of the most things i will be missing will be meeting the meshulachim . My neighbor gave out water bottles, so we decided to give out pre packaged mezonos. Its an opporunity to do chesed, tezedak, hachnosos orchim and make another yid feel good as well as chinuch for our children how to treat yidden and to be appeciative of what HKBH gives us.

  • Old time Lakewooder says:

    Many years ago approx. 40 there actually was such a system in Lakewood.

  • This will never work says:

    To many reasons why this is impractical and won’t work.
    And by the way they will still be knocking on your door to see if they can get some extra donations.

  • The Torah says GIVE says:

    Nason titen, even 100 times. May we all be blessed to give as much as we truly desire!

  • not in the spirit of tzedaka says:

    learn hilchos tzedaka. rather give small amounts to more people, rather be osek in tzedaka for more time, all the time. give of yourself, of your heart, of your time, of your patience… listen to what they have to say; feel their pain; give them a smile.

    writing out one tzedaka check each year to a kuppa can never take the place of the above. may Hashem never send us the nisayon of poverty.

  • concerned parent says:

    did you ever need tzedaka? Have you any idea what it’s like to leave your spouse and children and go collecting door to door in a country where you don’t evenb know the language. These people not only need money, they need chizuk, a warm smile, and a warm meal if yo can. What’s that? you don’t want to be bothered? and you expect that Hashem Yisborach wants to bother with a selfish person like you? Don’t expect to be treated any better than how you treat others.Where is your rachmonus

  • Tl says:

    I am in a difficult financial situation and wouldn’t be able to give anything to a kupah. However when ppl come knocking on the door I give whatever I can as I don’t want to send them away empty handed. I would give the dollar but wouldn’t be able to give the larger check even if it adds up to the same amount in the end. I think overall they would all lose out.

  • FTmom says:

    I agree that such a system misses the point of Tzedakah. Hashem created the world that there will always need to be givers and takers. We are blessed to be in the giving end at this time (at least monetarily) we all need things from others all the time.
    I can’t keep up with the knocks and they are intrusive but I feel the pain of every person who knocks at my door. We have several regulars who come twice yearly and they have all told me that regardless how much money we give they count on coming to our house knowing they will get a smile, encouragement, some food and of course some funds. Some years I’ve given a lot, some years just a bit.
    But I always try to listen to their stories and empathize.

  • E licht says:

    See chofetz chaim in ahavas chesed, (which should be required learning for everyone about hilchs tzedakah) that this idea is wrong and should not be done.

  • Shepsil says:

    Please rethink the pros & cons of this idea & reconsider your opinion.

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