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Dov’s Answers… Meet Rabbi Dov Grinblatt, Ahavas Tzedakah new Executive Director

Rabbi Dov Grinblatt is changing the lives of those in need one answer at a time. Now at the helm of Ahavas Tzedakah, Lakewood’s oldest and most prominent communal Tzedakah, Dov is responsible for ensuring thousands of families and children have their basic needs met. For most of us, this would leave us overwhelmed, with more questions than answers, but for R’ Dov and Ahavas Tzedakah it’s all answers. When did you join Ahavas Tzedakah?

RDG: I just joined Ahavas Tzedakah on March 16. Just as we were about to get started on taking things to the next level, the pandemic hit and just a few days later everything was shut down.

What was it like being new in such a critical role during a pandemic?

RDG: It was definitely challenging. On top of transitioning into my new role, we were now faced unprecedented challenges. It was right before Pesach, and the phone kept on ringing. As people’s parnassah diminished, and the reality of needing to make Pesach on their own hit, we realized that our Pesach campaign would be more critical than ever before. Who could have dreamed that in our community so many almanos, yesomim and others in need wouldn’t even be able to be guests at their family and friend’s sedarim? We shifted into high gear, and Baruch Hashem, against all odds, the annual Block Campaign did very well. Our dedicated block representatives stepped up to the challenge, and found new ways to enable their neighbors to participate. Of course, door to door collecting couldn’t happen – but that didn’t stop them. But, there are still so many families on our waiting list, and so much more to do.

What does Ahavas Tzedakah do?

RDG: Ahavas Tzedakah was founded by Dr. and Mrs. Shanik nearly 30 years ago. For the last three decades Ahavas Tzedakah has helped thousands of families literally make ends meet. Currently, nearly 1000 local families rely on Ahavas Tzedakah for their basic needs. We distribute weekly funds, as well as Yom Tov and crisis assistance to those in need using our unique methods that protect their dignity. These funds are used for groceries, clothing and other basic necessities.

How is Ahavas Tzedakah different from every other organization?

RDG: All organizations help families in Lakewood in different ways . What is special about Ahavas Tzedakah is that it enables its recipients to go to the stores and purchase their needs as everyone does, with no one knowing that they are being helped by our organization. We have privately made gift cards that work like any other credit card, but only in specific stores and for specific amounts. This let’s us help families in an extremely honorable way. We make sure that the cards look like regular credit cards, and no one knows what they look like.

Has the need increased during this period?

RDG: The need has increased tremendously. Not only do we still have the responsibility for the many families we’ve helped prior to the pandemic, we have new families reaching out, sometimes several a day. Many suffered the loss of one parent’s or even both parents jobs,  some lost their businesses. These are families that never had to come onto a charity organization but now have nowhere else to turn. That’s where we come in, to answer their call.

What’s this all about ANSWERS? Everywhere I go I see The Ahavas Tzedakah ANSWER billboards, bumper stickers, ads etc. Can you explain what the campaign is about?

RDG: Families call us for help. In just the few short months I’ve been involved, I’ve already seen how heartbreaking it can be. People call us with questions. “How will I pay rent? Will there be anything left for groceries? The summer’s almost here. Will my kids have sneakers?” They need us to ANSWER. Their future is literally in our hands. When people support Ahavas Tzedakah, they are letting us answer yes to these families. Currently there are over 100 families on the waiting list, waiting for someone to come and answer yes to them. We need people like your readers to step up and answer like so many have done.

I noticed there is a focus on weekly donations. Why is the need for weekly support so important?

RDG: The weekly assistance we provide enables each family to feel a sense of security that they are receiving money to purchase their basic necessities every week. But, it’s a big responsibility to undertake. We need supporters to take on a family a week, or even part of one family’s needs for a week to make this possible.

We all know the economy isn’t doing the great now. How has the response been?

RDG: Baruch Hashem, the support from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. We have seen so many, even some who are struggling themselves go out of their way to give as much as they can. Our community is amazing! The giving and caring for others is beyond what anyone can imagine. However, the need is quite large, and growing fast. We need even more support. We hope that in the next few days, those who haven’t given yet will step up to the plate and answer yes to those who are in need.

Ahavas Tzedakah’s Annual dinner will be held right here on TLS tomorrow night at 8:30 PM. If you haven’t donated yet, please do so right now at AhavasTzedakah.com or by calling 732-540-2972 x3 now.

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