In Moscow, ‘Maos Chitim’ Is Distributed for Chanukah As Well

Thousands of underprivileged homes in Russia received extra help this Chanukah, thanks to an initiative by Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar and a major operation by Moscow’s Chessed Center.

Moscow’s famed Chessed Center was a hive of activity these past few weeks, as a major Chanukah operation was being planned.

Already a number of weeks before Chanukah, the management of the Chessed Center – named ‘Shaarei Tzedek’, met to plan how to offer assistance to thousands of underprivileged Jewish households, including the elderly, lonely, and families with many children. Throughout the year, these families receive assistance from the Chesed Center, and ahead of each Yom Tov, the center increases their aid, and ads special items for the upcoming occasion.

Across the Jewish world, communities raise funds before Pesach and Tishrei to assist families who are unable to cover the extra bills. A number of years ago, Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, recognizing the added expenses of Chanukah, launched a mid-winter ‘maos chitim’ in Moscow ahead of the Yom Tov, and the initiative continues to this day.

Thousands of food baskets, which include menorahs, candles, food essentials and meat, are distributed according to the database of the Chessed Center’s central office. In addition, those who need are able to request assistance and receive a food package as well. Families with many children received an additional three boxes packed with a wide variety of food and treats, as part of the weekly distribution of ‘Oneg Shabbos v’Yom Tov’ which the Chessed Center hold before every Shabbos.

Even when Chanukah arrived, the Chessed Center wasn’t ready to rest. The center’s main lobby hosted a public menorah lighting each night, honoring dignitaries and philanthropist who help the center throughout the year to light the menorah. Hundreds of participants joined each night and enjoyed a festive program, with musicians and entertainers bringing the joy of the holiday to those who so need it.

The Chessed Center also sent out groups of the center’s staff together with volunteers each night to visit the homes of those they service. The groups brought joy to the homes of many lonely individuals, light the menorah with them, brought them sweets and Jewish reading material, and told them about the message of Chanukah.

One of the homes the groups visited was the home of Michel Lazerovitz, whose sister and her family were taken hostage on Simchas Torah. To the light of the Chanukah candles, they emotionally davened together for the safe return of his relatives and all of the hostages, and for the safety and security of all Yidden in Eretz Yisroel.

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