Let me be a seal upon your heart, Like the seal upon your hand. For love is fierce as death. (Song of Songs 8:6)
While most people would have run the other way from the terrorist’s flying bullets, 31-year-old tzaddik, Yosef Twito, who was in charge of security in the Samaria settlement of Itamar, south of Nablus, raced to the Shabo house to help. He was gunned down by the terrorist inside. Twito was murdered along with Rachel Shabo and her three children, Avishai, Zvika and Neria.
The attack, on June 20, 2002, sent shock waves throughout Israel and left four Shabo orphans and five Twito orphans behind.
Nahal Twito was only 4-and-a-half years old at the time of the tragedy. The charity organization Colel Chabad immediately took the Twito family under its care and has maintained a close relationship with Yosef’s widow, Rachel, and their orphaned children ever since.
In fact, at the time, the Twito family was one of the first the benefit from the newly created branch of Colel Chabad, Chesed Menachem Mendel which specifically addresses the needs of orphans in the Holy Land.
“Orphans are particularly vulnerable to emotional breakdowns and academic failure,” explained Rabbi Amram Blau, Director of the Chesed Menachem Mendel Foundation at Colel Chabad. “Our program addresses these challenges and offers customized solutions for orphaned children and lets them know that they are cared for and loved.”
The results are astonishing. Thanks to the individualized care given through Chesed Menachem Mendel, orphans who receive help manifest few of the scars that normally result from the loss of a parent.
As the saying goes, ‘The proof is in the pudding.’ Recently, a group of Colel Chabad representatives attended the emotional wedding of Nahal Twito, 16 years after the organization began helping his family.
Remembering the good that his family received for nearly two decades from Colel Chabad, Rabbi Amram Blau was honored with blessing the new couple under their wedding canopy.
The warm relationship with the Twito family since the terror attack was palpable and the family expressed their deep appreciation to Colel Chabad and particularly Rabbi Blau for their dedication to the family’s welfare over the years.
In an interesting twist of fate, Rachel Twito is a descendant of Rabbi Baruch Mordechai Ettinger, a disciple of one of the founders of Colel Chabad, who immigrated to the Land of Israel in 1905.
Colel Chabad’s first priority is ensuring that individuals receive proper daily nutrition and material sustenance. After that, preventing orphans from failing in school and supplying what they need for emotional stability to enable them to have a thriving future becomes of crucial importance.
Historically, orphans have the highest school dropout rate and academic failure. Stopping this process in its tracks is an investment Colel Chabad makes today to ensure a better tomorrow for both orphans and Israel.
Chesed Menachem Mendel takes a holistic approach to helping orphans, including providing psychological evaluation and therapy, intervention with educators and school administration, private tutoring and remedial education. Big Brother or Big Sister companionship, summer camp and extra-curricular activities are also funded by the organization.
Colel Chabad not only helps orphans with their education and family care, they also subsidize weddings for orphaned brides and grooms as well as poor families. “The debt from making even a modest affair can be straining,” said Rabbi Blau. “It’s even more trying when the bride or groom are orphans.”
Though the organization helps all poor brides and grooms, when one is an orphan, they go especially all out covering the entire cost of the wedding. They even provide the newlyweds with furniture, linens, dishes, pots and pans.
Each year Colel Chabad provides for about 200 orphans’ weddings and the newlywed’s household needs. “One way that we raise urgently needed funds to help orphans is by twinning donors celebrating their own wedding with an orphan,” explained Rabbi Blau. “When a person is celebrating their joyous occasion, bringing happiness to others who are needy adds an extra dimension of blessing. Helping an orphaned young couple is a great way to double one’s own joyous occasion.”
To donate to Colel Chabad, please click here.
Written in cooperation with Colel Chabad.