Lamed-Vuvnik
A joint project of The World Repair Company and the Derech Elokim Fund for Jewish Values
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Jewish legends speak of the “lamed-vuvniks,” who toil unnoticed in their work of “tikkun olam,” which is Hebrew for “repairing the world.” “Lamed” and “vuv” are the Hebrew letters whose numerical value is 36, and the “lamed-vuvniks” are 36 righteous people, who roam the world in each generation. They do acts of kindness, taking pity on the poor and compassion on the helpless, and leave as quietly as they arrive, with only their good deeds as a evidence of their presence. Tradition tells us that on the merit of these 36 people, God sustains the world from generation to generation.

This website enables you to be a “lamed-vuvnik,” by sending an anonymous gift to a needy person-- taking a token donation and transforming it into a much needed and appreciated helping hand. Although one gift won’t change the world, enough helping hands will.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you are going to someone’s house for dinner, or want to thank someone for a gift or a kindness done to you, or you are going to a birthday party or celebrating a special occasion for someone who really is able to buy anything they want. Rather than bring or send a gift to that person, you click on Make a Donation, and make a "Gift of Love" donation to the “Lamed-Vuvnik” fund. Then you click again, and select a card and inscription that you can either print out on your computer, and give to the person you are honoring, or email it to that person. Either way, you are letting him or her know that in their honor, a good deed has been done.

Then, our network of “zamlers” in Israel seek out people in need, and gives them “Gifts of Love”--either money or goods to make their lives better. (“Zamler” is a Yiddish word meaning “collector,” and your emissaries are called byBible that name because they go about collecting people with unmet needs, and breathing new life into their souls.) The people they find are those who slip through the cracks of organized philanthropy—people with small needs, and nowhere to turn. People with sudden, modest needs, where a helping hand can avert a greater disaster. Our zamlers are people who we have met over the years, good souls, who are either retired or otherwise employed, but who have a keen eye and a sensitive heart, who are trusted by the community. Depending on what donations come in, they are each allotted a portion every week, and working either on their own, or with other people they trust, seeking out the most desperate cases, and remedying problems. To learn more about these people, and to hear about some of the work they’ve done, or to suggest names of people whom you think would make good zamlers, click True Stories and Contact Us.

Some of us are lucky enough to have a network of family and friends who can help us out when times get rough—an unexpected expense, an illness, loss of work, a theft, an accident, etc. But some of us are not so lucky. In a country like Israel, where many are recent immigrants, where fear of being blown up always lurks around the corner, where the economy is so tenuous that some weeks some people don’t have enough to eat, we need to be that network. Although organized charities do a wonderful job on a large scale, often people fall through the cracks, or have a modest, urgent, one-time need, and have no where to turn. That’s where you, the lamed-vuvnik, and our zamlers, come in.

We are lucky to live in America, we are lucky to live at the beginning of the 21st century, and we are lucky to have our material needs well met. We live better than more than 99% of the people in the world. We may think we have financial problems, or that the economy is not good, or that we are lacking something, but, for the most part, life is good to us, and we don’t have to do without. We can pay our utility bills—the gas, electric and water all work. The cupboard has food. We get medical care. We have transportation. We buy new clothes. We think times are rough when we downscale vacation plans, or skip a night out, or don’t buy everything we thought we’d buy at the mall. It’s all a matter of perspective. But the fact is that we live in relative wealth to the rest of the world, and there are tremendous needs out there. So when we think of getting a gift for someone because it is the proper thing to do, or even if we really want to celebrate a happy occasion (or memorialize a sad one), or just give a tangible token of a heartfelt emotion, some of these times (not necessarily all of these times), we might want to say: “I am thinking of you, and we are both blessed, so I am sending you my greetings, and in your honor, I am making someone’s life better.” So you give $18, $25, $50, or whatever you might have spent on flowers, candy, a bottle of wine and a card, or on a roll of gift wrap, or helium balloons, or a little something, and instead, you make a donation and print out a "Gift of Love" card, or email one. Instead of fancy seating cards for a dinner, you have "Gift of Love" seating cards. Instead of another dessert (admit it—don’t you generally find that there are too many desserts, and some get thrown out), you give a "Gift of Love" card. Wouldn’t it be nice to sit down at a festive meal, knowing that there is at least one other person eating that meal with you, thousands of miles away—a person who would not have had a festive meal?

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