What is The Vaad Harabbanim?
Vaad Harabbanim is a Charity organization that was founded by Gedolei Hador, shlita, in order to supervise all charitable matters in Israel. Until its inception, there was no real control or organization to charitable donations and causes, with the very number of charitable funds being overwhelming, as well as problems like knowing if one´s donation really reached its goal, how monies were spent, reviews and audits of activities, and more.
As the economic situation worsened, it became even harder to ensure that charitable funds could be properly monitored, especially for large families in the Chareidi sector.
Understanding the scope of the problem, as well as the large number of unsupervised charitable organizations and the growing lack of trust among donors regarding their generosity´s destination, it was decided to establish a single, central organization that would be directed, operated, supervised and audited by dedicated and honest Rabbinical leaders. Each request for help would be carefully examined, criteria would be set, and every case would be followed up and reviewed to ensure honesty, transparency and that a person´s hard-earned donation reached its destination in full.
Thanks to its wide acceptance of the entire Chareidi world, the Vaad was able to establish a much wider donor base and therefore meet many more needs of an ever increasing poor and economically underprivileged population.
And so it was, the Vaad was established, rapidly becoming the largest and most central charity fund in Israel.
The Wheel of Fortune and Salvation
But the results surprised even the founders. Within a very short time, the Vaad´s reputation preceded it, and donations increased ten-fold, with the more veteran Gabbaim saying that the Israel before the founding of the Vaad is totally different than the Israel after the organization´s establishment.
The Vaad still serves as Israel´s largest charity fund, and has become the wheel of fortune and salvation for tens of thousands of tragic cases annually. The Vaad has helped countless widows, orphans, families and individuals overcome abject poverty, broken lives, broken families and dealing with fatal and near-fatal illness. In fact, the Vaad is so comprehensive and broad in its clientele base and so honest and efficient in its distribution of funds, that the Posek Hador Harav Hagaon S. Wozner, shlita, has said: "The Vaad Harabbainim is the very essence of charity in its fullest sense, unlike anything else in history."
Whom to Give?
Naturally, some of the most difficult and tragic cases come to the Vaad for help, due to its size and scope. Even starving children are not an uncommon sight in the Vaad offices.
And it is certainly no pleasure when the Gabbaim enter a home to investigate a particular request and are greeted with peeling walls, disconnected electricity and phone, worn-out mattresses on the floor, and filthy children dressed in rags, not to mention empty cupboards and refrigerators or a father who works until late leaving a sickly and exhausted wife to cope with children and all the problems.
The only address for such cases is the Vaad, but the activities don´t stop there. Seeing its role as being the largest and most centralized charity fund, the Vaad also handles "regular" needs, like making sure a child receives proper dental care, psychological counseling and the like, which can be no less important than feeding a hungry child.
This is the most difficult issue facing the Vaad. On the one hand, the Vaad strives to handle every request, big or small, but on the other hand, it is obvious that not everyone can expect equal treatment. The Vaad Rabbis must therefore prioritize the caseload, and must choose the most difficult and destitute cases before others. This also involves careful investigation of the facts of each case, weighing its level of severity and deciding on how much help can be granted.
Just one example: During the last campaign (High Holy Days, 5767), the Vaad had over 20 meetings that continued well into the night because of the heavy caseload and the meticulous and thorough discussion that is devoted to each and every request. It is also important to note that the Rabbis involved do so voluntarily, as they are all full-time teachers or community or neighborhood Rabbis all over Israel. It is the satisfaction of knowing that they have helped so many thousands of needy Jews that keeps them going and inspires them to even greater efforts.
Priorities are set by the Gedolim, as well as the actual distribution of the funding and the decision regarding how much to allocate for each request. The only information deemed important is the need and facts of the case- no other factors are considered, like the applicant´s place of residence, background, community affiliation or personal lifestyle.
The Basic Foundation: Trust
One of the Vaad´s basic principles is absolutely transparency and trust, which has a snowball and ripple effect: It starts with the trust Gedolei Torah have in the fund, which in turn attracts donors who trust the Gedolim. Since they know that their money will reach its destination in full and that absolute discretion will be maintained vis a vis the recipient, the Vaad´s reputation spreads and more and more kind and caring Jews join the long list of Vaad supporters.
One of the most important factors in this trust is the meticulous and stringent adherence to halacha and honest business ethics. A full time accountant ensures that every cent is properly spent and accounted for, and the strictest due diligence is maintained in managing the fund. Special committees are appointed to investigate particular cases, and every detail regarding the veracity of information and case is filed and checked. Finally, only after formal approval by the Vaad Rabbis is a check issued, which must carry the signatures of two senior Gedolim.
This highly developed trust is what distinguishes the Vaad from many other charitable funds. Yet the Vaad considers it their basic duty not only to provide for the needy, but also to ensure that the donor is respected and confident that his hard-earned money is being used for exactly the purpose it is intended - and with no overhead or administrative expenses deducted at source.
Yearly financial reports are prepared and submitted as required by both civil and Torah law, and are available to all those interested in seeing exactly how their generous contributions were spent.
Another unique feature of the Vaad is the fact that unlike many other funds th