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Naomi Brounstein

 
Why One Canadian Native Believes the Key Ingredients to Purim involve Hamantaschen, Tzedakah and Technology

March 13, 2016

 

For most, Purim is a time of celebrations and participating in the tradition of exchanging mishloach manot (gift baskets) to friends and family.  Two women also want to remind us that it is a time to focus on giving gifts to the poor, or matanot laevyonim. Naomi Jacobs- Brounstein, a Canadian native, practiced law in Toronto before moving to Ra’anana with her family in 1993. She is also the recent co-founder of Ten Gav (www.tengav.org), an organization that pairs crowdfunding with micro granting to help Israeli’s-in-need. She believes Purim offers no better time to demonstrate the mitzvah of helping others.

 

Jacobs-Brounstein and her co–founder, Vivi Mann are determined to find more and better ways for Israelis who are struggling to make ends meet, leave the cycle of poverty and create better lives for themselves and their families.  They travel around Israel meeting with social workers employed by municipal social service departments and accept applications from them to fund very particular modest needs that these professionals may have witnessed on their home visits or may hear about directly from their clients, most of whom are recipients of municipal social services. They receive requests for basic items like refrigerators, stoves and closets, as well as requests for more specialized items whose costs are way beyond the family’s means, such as new hearing aids, a computer for work or school, or funding for a well needed extracurricular activity such as a soccer program for youth-at-risk.

 

Jacobs-Brounstein has witnessed the success in applying technology and using it as a platform to showcase these needs and bring attention and funding. In a short time, they have already funded more than 140 cases.  Ten Gav posts the needs on its' website and riding the wave of crowdfunding, you visit the site, read a personal story that connects to you and give to the need posted.  When all the money has been collected for that need they, together with the social worker, arrange for the purchase and delivery of the goods or services to the family in need.  All due diligence is conducted by professional social workers in the field.

 

One particularly creative social worker had the unfortunate experience of having 2 different families in her jurisdiction in Ashdod in the south of Israel, give birth to babies that were severely visually impaired.  The nearest centre offering a parenting course for parents in this situation was in Petach Tikva.  Knowing full well that these families needed the training offered in the course and that the 2 or 3 buses and several hours needed to get there and back each time would be a huge impediment to both sets of parents already struggling with poverty and multiple other challenges, she submitted an application to Ten Gav to hire a taxi to take these 4 adults twice a week for several weeks to Petach Tikva.  The story was posted and funded in such very short time, perhaps because it was appealing to the donating public who could appreciate the “out-of-the-box” thinking of the social worker.

 

Another example, of a relatively common challenge for a social services family takes place when they have to come up with the funds to pay their portion of a highly subsidized item, such as hearing aids for the elderly or even for children.  The cost of hearing aids may range from about 9,000 NIS to 15,000 NIS and while either National Insurance or the Health Fund will pay the lion’s share of the cost, the reality is that many families that are clients of welfare departments around the country simply do not have the funds to pay the several thousand shekels that remain for them to cover themselves. One can often see a request for funding for that portion of hearing aids posted on www.tengav.org.

 

In the past year and few months of operations, Ten Gav has already begun working with municipal welfare departments in Ashdod, Kiryat Malachi, Sderot, Holon, Kfar Saba, Raanana, Netanya, Hadera, Haifa and with social workers from the Maccabi Health Fund in Beer Sheva, Mitzpeh Ramon, Ashkelon, as well as with several other not for profit organizations helping families in financial straits.

 

“The unique aspect of our giving model is to provide any donor with direct access to a family in need.  All of the stories on the website deal with real people meeting real challenges,” explains Jacobs-Brounstein.  “The underlying lessons of Purim are related to Jewish unity and communal support.  Purim is a very meaningful time to give directly to struggling families and Ten Gav provides the optimum platform to do that.”

 

Whether the donations are made in Canadian, U.S. dollars, British pounds or Israeli shekels, no single need listed exceeds $1,500 or 5,500 shekels, so even relatively modest donations are meaningful.

 

Year round, the founders of Ten Gav have also established a way to engage young people in direct acts of Tzedakah through the Ten Gav Bar or Bat Mitzvah Tzedakah Project. “We work with kids in Israel, the US and all over to encourage their family and friends to contribute to Ten Gav in honour of the milestone in lieu of gifts or in addition to gifts,” says Jacobs-Brounstein. "We create a personalized page for the Bar or Bat Mitzvah with photos or a video clip as well as an on-line message board so that as donations come in, the donor’s greetings get posted.  At the end of it all the family can sit down together and decide to which families in need in Israel to apply the funds that have been accumulated on behalf of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah child. We find it’s a great educational experience for all involved. And, we’re waiting to be approached to create a unique page for someone’s “special” birthday or golden wedding anniversary!  Our platform can help change any special occasion into a very meaningful one by offering a wonderful giving experience.”

 

In this spirit of giving to the poor at Purim time Ten Gav presents two ways of sending Purim greetings and helping families in need in Israel at the same time.  Either by sending e-mail Purim greeting cards to your list of family and friends (10 e-cards per $25 donation) or sending Ten Gav Giving Cards (in $50 increments).  A Ten Gav Giving Card is when you make the donation and the recipient visits www.tengav.org and applies the value of your donation to the family in need of his/her choice.  Giving cards make for a very enhanced giving experience.

 

For more information about Ten Gav and their Purim options visit www.tengav.org or email Ten Gav directly at [email protected]

 



 

 
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