Along for The Journey

A year in Israel for Seminary or Yeshiva is integral to the growth of many troubled Jewish youth worldwide. For these students, their school becomes their safe-haven to confront spiritual and emotional challenges – but the journey does not come easily.

The financial burden of tuition and the miscellaneous costs of studying in Israel leave many “kids-at-risk” unable to afford it. Moreover, many of these students require therapy, rehabilitation, or guidance when far away from home.

Luckily though, Chicagoans have whom to turn to.

About 30 years ago, Chicago Chesed Fund was born, an all-encompassing organization committed to helping families and individuals in need throughout the Chicagoland area. From a bustling food pantry to professional-level job assistance and infertility treatment, the organization provides critical assistance in the form of goods, services, and financial support.

But the organization that never rests knows no limits. CCF’s large-scale programming and events do not deter from the personalized care and attention each community member receives – and when it comes to troubled youth looking to learn in Israel, it’s no different. Rav Shmuel Fuerst, founder of Chicago Chesed Fund, works relentlessly to raise money to assist these students in their journey.

Together with his son, Rabbi Yossi Fuerst, Director of Operations at Chicago Chesed Fund, he personally ensures that any boy or girl who wants to spend the year in Israel gets there, contacting the various schools and advocating on their behalf.

Rabbi Moshe Prager, esteemed Rebbi and recruiter at Neve Tzion in Telz-Stone, quickly got on board as Rabbi Fuerst’s liaison in Israel, servicing approximately 30 Chicagoan boys and girls a year in addition to his other responsibilities.

“It doesn’t matter what school the student is from or what school he or she is going to,” Rabbi Prager emphasized. “Chassidishe, Litvish, or Modern Orthodox – Rabbi Fuerst is personally invested in them.”

From covering bills and spending money, to sourcing good therapists, and even sponsoring clothing – Rabbi Fuerst and Rabbi Prager provide the financial, emotional, and/or spiritual assistance for the year.

“It’s no telling how many lives were saved over the years. Chicago Chesed Fund was able to help many troubled youth get back on their feet – both spiritually and emotionally.”