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The Shadchanim’s tzedakah

[COMMUNICATED] Seven years ago, a group of Lakewood’s Shadchanim, Meir Levi, Shloime Lewenstein, and Tzodek Katz, came together to form a unique organization which would serve a particular need. From their distinct vantage point on the shidduch scene, they had become aware of an uncomfortable yet all too familiar scenario: A new chosson would confide in them that he lacked the basic funds to cover the costs of a decent, respectable wardrobe or to purchase the expected gifts for his kallah. All the existing chasunah funds, were exclusively focused on assisting kallahs and their families. But who would assist the chassan and his family?

To fill this void, R’ Shloime, R’ Meir and R’ Tzodek came together, and Keren Chassanim Zichron Mattel was born. It was fittingly named for R’ Shloime’s late mother, Mrs. Mattel Lewnstein a”h, a pillar of chessed in her community. With its great success and with each passing year, the need – and the collection – grew.

To fund this undertaking, and the growing budget, the shadchanim would tirelessly reach out to many generous donors who would graciously give, to help with this very much needed undertaking.

Aside from this, Zichron Mattel’s mission of helping chassanim allowed the shadchanim to tap into a unique market: Bochurim in shidduchim themselves. They termed this concept as, “Chassanim for Chassanim.” If every chosson would contribute a small amount of the Maaser from their wedding gifts, it would make a major difference in raising the funds necessary to distribute to those in need every year, transforming their time of stress, to the joyous one it was meant to be.

R’ Meir Levi explained that “Those that can most relate to a chosson’s needs are often his closest friends. After all, they are at the stage where they too, are hoping to walk down the chupa soon enough. When a young couple marries, friends and family often wish the newlyweds well with a monetary gift and by pledging a percentage of their eventual ma’aser money to Zichron Mattel, they are ensuring that their friends too, can get married in a respectable fashion.”

To bring this concept into fruition, Zichron Mattel hosts an annual “Dinner,” in Beth Medrash Govoha’s Ateres Esther hall. Here, the Bochurim, about to enter their own parsha of shiduchim, come together, embodying the comradery the organization is all about. “Besides the fundraiser,” says R Shloime Lewenstein, “it is also a powerful statement of Achdus – each of the attendees, no matter which Yeshiva he came from, no matter where he was born, no matter which Chaburah he learns in, no matter which dormitory he sleeps in, proclaims loudly this joint sense of Achrayus the BMG Talmidim have for each other.”

This year, the dinner had the privilege of being addressed by the Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Darchei Torah, Harav Yaakov Bender Shlit”a. HaRav Bender opened his remarks by forcefully stating that while the amount of money Zichron Mattel now raises and distributes is undoubtedly impressive, it is also not nearly enough.

“We must take care of the basics for them, but we shouldn’t be happy doing just that. We should try to give them the best! We can’t be happy until every single Bochur is Sameach B’Yom Chasunaso!”

HaRav Bender said that the core of what Zichron Mattel stands for is being there for others in times of need. “There are Bochurim here tonight who don’t have whom to turn to, don’t have parents or grandparents whom they can rely on. And what you are doing here is so incredible – you are saying loud and clear that they can rely on you through your Maaser money. Understand what it is! What a wonderful organization!”

This past year alone, over 240 Chasanim benefited from the Tzedaka fund, with the budget increasing more than six-fold. What began as a simple collection, morphed into one of Lakewood’s premier Tzedaka funds, with an annual budget nearing nine hundred thousand dollars.

And that, at its core, is what the event was all about. Those who attended the event responded to the increasing need, and it was the most successful one to date.

But as the numbers of Chassanim, Bli Ayin Hara, expands, so does the pressing needs of those whom Zichron Mattel helps. R’ Meir Levi says, “We take our fundraising efforts beyond just the Talmidim of BMG. We simply have to.

Going forward, Zichron Mattel will continue to grow. Because as long as there is a Chosson in need, the “for Chassanim – by Chassanim” mantra will remain as it’s mission statement.

To contribute to this great tzedakah please go to www.zichronmattel.org

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