A Shliach to the Shluchim – Emissary to the Emissaries
A Shliach to the Shluchim – Emissary to the Emissaries | Oro shel yoseph > Commemoration > Yossie, My Best Friend 22

Oro shel yoseph > Commemoration > Yossie, My Best Friend > A Shliach to the Shluchim – Emissary to the Emissaries

A Shliach to the Shluchim – Emissary to the Emissaries

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The slogan, "Chabad House – your home for everything Jewish", is well-known; not many know the next line: "and Rabbi Yossie Raichik – home for every Chabad House."
A contribution or a recommendation to turn to a potential donor, an attentive ear, or 'just ' a good word and an encouraging smile – Rabbi Raichik was always there for the Shluchim, nurturing and maintaining warm connections. It was not only the environment of Shlichus in which he was raised and educated, or his status as a member of the Board of Tzeirei Agudat Chabad (the organization that oversees Shluchim in Israel). First and foremost, it was his heart that pulled him to assist in every manner possible, without badge or emblem, name on the door, position. In anything or any place connected with helping and hesed, Rabbi Yossie Raichik was there – and all the more so when it came to Shluchim of the Rebbe.
 "One day I went to the offices of Tzeria Agudat Chabad in Kfar Chabad, and met him in the parking lot," recalls one of the Shluchim in Israel. "I had just gotten out of my car, a new mini-van and my conscience was still troubling me about the purchase. "Look," I said to Reb Yossie, pointing to my car, 'I am concerned that I made a mistake when I bought this car, I think it is too luxurious."
"This question-statement of mine," he smiles, "resulted in a loud lecture from Reb Yossie. 'Are you crazy? This is how a Shliach should travel and this is how he should look. The Shluchim are entitled to all the abundance in the world! You work so hard, without letting up, in the Shlichus of the Rebbe, you deserve it!"
 Not to Disappoint the Hevre
It was not enough for Rabbi Raichik to give words of encouragement. His assistance to the Shluchim in Israel and abroad was expressed in two areas: the Keren HaShluchim – The Shluchim Fund – and his own personal initiatives.
The Shluchim Fund was established about three years before Rabbi Raichik passed away, by the Board of Tzeirei Agudat Chabad, and its chairman, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Aronow The Fund's goal was to help the Shluchim, the directors of the Chabad houses, in their personal lives – children's bar mitzvahs, weddings, medical expenses.
Each Shliach is also responsible for managing his own home and family life with all that includes. Sometimes there are large and unexpected expenses, which because of the Shliach's lifestyle, are more difficult to cope with and which is why the Shluchim Fund was established. Rabbi Raichik was in charge of receiving and approving the applications.
Rabbi Naphtali Lipsker, director of the Department for Chabad Houses in Tzeirei Agudat Chabad remembers: "He looked for different ideas and directions to help the fund. He raised money, tens of thousands of dollars, without neglecting his other responsibilities."
Rabbi Lipsker remembers Erev Pesach 2008, when Rabbi Raichik asked him to compile an additional list of Shluchim who needed financial assistance. "I gave him the list and he started to work on it, but it was more difficult than usual to raise the aimed-for sum.
"As Pesach drew near, I approached him cautiously (although Rabbi Raichik was the last person who needed to be encouraged when it came to helping others in general and Shluchim in particular), and mentioned that the Shluchim were anxious and Pesach was quickly approaching. I felt uncomfortable seeing his distress. It was clear to me that he did not have a solution or target date for getting a contribution. When I stood up to leave, he took hold of my hand and said decisively, 'Send out the checks!'"
"What, how many?" I asked, flabbergasted. The account had no money in it.
"The money will get there – it's my responsibility," he insisted. "Just do it."
"At that moment I preferred not to ask questions; I accepted his promise, relied on his words and sent out the checks. And so another large group of Shluchim celebrated Pesach, relaxed and much happier. Not one check bounced, the entire amount was deposited in the bank, as promised.
"After Pesach, I could not restrain myself and asked Rabbi Raichik how he was able to guarantee such an amount.
"He smiled with satisfaction and told me, unembarrassed, 'I took out a loan so as not to disappoint the hevre… Don't worry," he quickly reassured me, "I will make sure to return it."
 Stories from the Shluchim
Naturally, the Shluchim Fund was an address for many stories, both happy and sad, and, of utmost importance, it was anonymous. Even though many Shluchim were helped by the fund, few agreed to share this personal situation in their lives. The stories below are a small, representative collection that teaches us about the quiet deeds of the Fund that helps Chabad houses in Israel and abroad.
"I did not know him personally, but on several occasions I realized he was a man of hesed," wrote Rabbi Gad Fadlun, a Shliach from Hadar Yosef in Tel Aviv. "RebYossie could not rest or relax until he had fulfilled his mission. His personality and his memory will serve as a model for kindness and good deeds. For me, the Shluchim Fund has been a life-saver."
"I also did not know him personally," adds another Shliach, from 'somewhere in Israel' "Just the idea of the help, through the Shluchim Fund, was an enormous relief. It is a great feeling to know that someone is looking to improve and be more efficient with the help we receive – and that we, the Shluchim, don't carry this heavy burden alone."
Another anonymous Shliach who unfortunately had one tragedy after another says, "Our economic situation was generally satisfactory, thank G-d," but he continues, "the combination of difficult circumstances became overwhelming, especially when we were faced with many expenses, medical and psychological, which were not covered by any group such as Bituach Leumi" (similar to the American Social Security).
"And then," his eyes filled with tears, "the Fund arrived, and helped us tremendously. 'A gift from heaven,' I call it – which does not suffice to describe how much it helped us."
Rabbi Shimon Elcharar, from the Chabad House in the Dead Sea area, recalls approaching the Fund for help.
"I took on my Shlichus at the age of 36, when I was already a father of seven children," he begins. "Annually, the area around the Dead Sea attracts about 3 million visitors and therefore, most of our activities are not with a regular community. This makes our Chabad House's financial situation very difficult."
"As the holidays approached, I found to my concern, that I did not have the necessary money for the holiday. In Elul, all my time and efforts and little bit of money had gone into 'Uforatzto' (approaching people) and now erev Rosh Hashana, there was not even a head of a fish–or for that matter, tail of a fish, in the house."
"I had full faith in my 'Meshaleach'(the Rebbe)," he says. "And the shliach appeared – Reb Yossie Raichik sent a generous amount from the fund with which my family and I celebrated the month of Tishrei. You have no idea," continues Rabbi Elcharar, "how much this donation helped. I was able to continue with my Shlichus without worrying, and to reach out to tens of thousands of visitors throughout Tishrei. Through the Shluchim Fund I could carry out my Shlichus calmly."
Rabbi Elcharar tells us of the few times he met Rabbi Raichik. "Every time, I was amazed at the personal attention that he gave, by his sincere interest in the Shlichus in my area. He shone with giving and hesed."
"Rabbi Raichik was first and foremost for everything connected with helping the Shluchim," testifies Rabbi Yehuda Dunin, a Shliach of the Rebbe in Haifa. "Last year we purchased a three story building and were faced with a very difficult financial situation – with losing property valued at half a million dollars. Funds were urgently needed to cover the last payment so as not to break the contract and lose everything. I did not know whom else to approach …and then I approached the Shluchim Fund.
Rabbi Dunin does not hide his emotions when he remarks that within a few days, a few days only he received – a most generous check that saved the building and the shliach's situation. "I cannot thank him enough," he says today. "I am certain, that even from above, Yossie is not resting or relaxing but continuing his work for us, the Shluchim."
 The Soul Shines Through
The Shliach in Beit Sha'an, Rabbi Yaacov Shmulevitz, recalls his daughter's wedding two years earlier. The expenses piled up, and he wondered how to cover them all. He heard about the Shluchim Fund, approached them and within a few days received a generous and helpful grant.
"In the framework of hakarat hatov, I found out about the fund, and saw that Rabbi Raichik was very involved. With his great Ahavat Yisroel, he searched for more donors, and collected significant donations for the Shluchim.
"In this same period, I heard another story demonstrating Rabbi Raichik's dedication to his Tzedaka projects and the help from Hashem that he merited for his efforts. My brother, Rabbi Eliezer Shmulevitz, the Shliach in Or Akiva and Caesarea, was friendly with Gal Friedman, Israeli Olympian and gold medalist. My brother knew him and his wife-to-be personally and later officiated at their wedding.
"During this time, Rabbi Raichik was organizing a fundraiser for the Children of Chernobyl. Bob Book had the idea of bringing Gal Friedman, which would attract more participants and increase the donations. Yossie made every effort and finally discovered that my brother knew the athlete. After a short conversation between them, Gal Friedman agreed to fly over for the fundraiser. He came to the evening which was successful."
This story has an interesting continuation. "Because of this connection, Rabbi Raichik was invited to the Friedman wedding and even was a witness at the ceremony. Rabbi Har Tzvi, the educational director of the Children of Chernobyl also came with him. Suddenly the father of the bride approached Rabbi Har Tzvi whom he recognized as they had fought side by side in the Yom Kippur War.
Thebattalion commander, and other soldiers who had survived the difficult battles were at the wedding and it was a very emotional reunion. It was a 'kiddush Hashem' when they heard from their former first sergeant, Yitzchak Har Tzvi about the project that Rabbi Raichik and he were involved in."
To conclude, another Shliach, who wishes to remain anonymous, wants however to express his gratitude for the personal loan Rabbi Raichik took out erev Pesach to help the Shluchim. Rabbi Naphtali Lipsker spoke about this at the annual Shluchim Convention in New York. Only then did those who were present discover in whose zchut they had celebrated Seder night comfortably and joyously.
 "Today, when everyone runs to the media to publicize their kimcha depischa, Rabbi Raichik's modesty is so impressive," sums up the Shliach. "Only after I heard the story, did I understand how much effort and devotion were invested in this support. Thanks to him we celebrated the holiday and my wife was able to attend the Shabbat arranged especially for wives of Shluchim, which gave her a lot of energy and stamina."
"Besides the fact that Rabbi Raichik took this loan upon himself, it's amazing that he did not even let anyone know – which is very unusual these days." The Shliach continues, "Only later at the convention did we hear the very moving truth. There simply are not people like him."
 The Shluchim Deserve Everything
Hal Freiman, the main supporter of the Shluchim Fund, gave us the donor's perspective:
"Yossie first told me about this idea about three years ago. He explained that there was a multiplier effect in helping Shluchim in needy circumstances because each Shliach helps in turn lots of people. 'Your assistance is not just helping one Shliach, but the entire community around us—hundreds of people who depend on the Shliach for spiritual and material needs."
"Yossie sent me detailed e-mails, explaining the circumstances of many of these cases."
Hal Freiman remembers how sad some of the stories were. "Sometimes I wondered how Yossie could spend so much effort listening to all of these cases and how he avoided becoming depressed. Sometimes I just had to stop reading… How did he remain so joyous?"
Hal Freiman illustrated with a small example from the annual event for the Shluchim's wives. Yossie wrote explaining how important it was that the wives attend the conference as they support their husbands who in turn have many responsibilities with their local communities. "He told me how important it was to be mechazek them so they can pass that on to their husbands."
Rabbi Raichik understood how important this was for the wife, the Shlicha – no less important than supplying Shmura Matzo for Pesach, or building a new synagogue. The Shluchim, Rabbi Raichik repeated over and over, deserve everything. He did everything possible to help them—both with the fund, and with personal initiative and private connections.
Rabbi Kantor, Shliach of the Rebbe in Bangkok recalls meeting Yossie and discussing his work in the Far East with him. "Yossie told me about a philanthropist who was visiting in Jerusalem and who would definitely love our work with the backpackers. He gave me the details, and guided me on how to get an appointment with him. BH, we got a very large donation for our institutions. When I bumped into Yossie next in New York, he was overjoyed to hear that we had received the donation."
Rabbi Kantor's story has larger implications if we take into account that Rabbi Raichik's main job was to obtain funds for his own organization. He did not mind "sharing" his donors with others, without thinking of his own personal needs or considering them "rivals".
This testimony from the Rabbi in the Far East is only one of many. A Shliach in a European country told us: "Many people come to my city for fundraising, but Rabbi Raichik was the only one who when he finished his 'rounds' would phone and say that he had met someone whom he was sure could help us and we should contact him."
 A True Friend
Another Shliach who was personally helped by Rabbi Raichik is Rabbi Victor Atia of Kiryat Arba. "It was four years ago," he remembers, "the Habad kindergarten teacher in Kiryat Arba approached me for more equipment worth tens of thousands of shekels. I told her that I was aware that her kindergarten needed upgrading, but that I hadn't a clue as to how to get the amount. I explained that I was still very much in debt trying to cover the summer day camp expenses besides the fact that fundraising was one of my weak points…however as I was preparing for a trip to 770, I promised that I would make an effort on her behalf, how – I didn't know myself!
"I arrived at Crown Heights, and as usual stayed in the basement of Rabbi Yitzchak Gurevitz – he and his family are unusual, great doers of hesed. There I met my friend, Rabbi Yitzchak Teichtel from Chabad House in Netanya, and during our conversation-how and why I cannot recall – I mentioned the kindergarten teacher who needed new equipment.
"To my surprise, a solution was found through him. 'It would be good to contact Eva Wyler,' he suggested. 'She is a generous donor and has also contributed to our kindergartens.' When I asked how to approach her, Rabbi Teichtel told me to speak to Rabbi Raichik as she knows and appreciates him greatly.
"And so," Reb Victor volunteers the end of the story, "I approached Rabbi Raichik who listened attentively and said that he would speak to Eva Wyler. In a very short period of time, the kindergarten in Kiryat Arba received new equipment to the value of $20,000."
Rabbi Teichtel adds his part to this story. He remembers the first time he met Eva Wyler – through the agent from "Ganit" a company for children's outdoor equipment, who told him about a generous benefactor from Herzliya Pituach who financed the equipment for the local kindergartens in Netanya to the value of a few million. "Try and contact her, maybe she will help you," he advised.
The Shliach from Netanya immediately called Herzliya Pituach and spoke to Eva Wyler, saying that he was from Chabad. To his surprise she said that she knew Chabad very well and mentioned that she knows Rabbi Raichik and would be delighted to help. "She said how much she valued Rabbi Raichik, which helped us a great deal as well," said Rabbi Teichtel, "and therefore when my friend Rabbi Atiya approached me, I referred him to her through Rabbi Raichik."
It is impossible to finish this story without the third party – Eva Wyler. She made aliya to Israel from Switzerland. Before that her family had lived in California, where they knew the Raichik family; her parents even knew the parents of Rabbi Yossie.
"We had connections with Chabad in San Diego, and when we arrived in Israel, Rabbi Fradkin introduced us to Rabbi Yossie. Since then we have remained in contact."
Eva Wyler was a good friend of the Children of Chernobyl project. Through Rabbi Raichik she was involved in the kindergarten in Gilo, Jerusalem where she supplied the outdoor games equipment. Chabad Institutions in Netanya, Kiryat Arba, and most probably in many other places, have been helped by her thanks to Rabbi Raichik "He was a very special man, funny, but most important, a true friend."
 Fighting Against the Missiles
 "A true friend" is also Rabbi Yigal Tzipori, Shliach Chabad of Kiryat Shmona's description. "Yossie lives for others," he explains. Their close contact started a decade ago. "It was just before Lag B'Omer 5759, and like all the Shluchim in the country we were in the midst of arranging our Lag B'Omer Children's Parade. Bands and performers were invited, and all the schools signed that they would participate.
Just before Lag B'Omer, the Ministry of Defense announced that the residents had to enter the air-raid shelters or leave the area. The Israel Defense Forces were about to retreat from Lebanon and there was concern that Hezbollah would fire. This announcement was like thunder on a summer's day.
"On the morning of Lag B'Omer, Rabbi Raichik called to find out how we were coping. I knew him from before, like any other Shliach in Israel. I told him the news and he asked, "Since when have you had Lag B'Omer Parades in the city?"
I replied, "Since 5747."
"They will not stop," he declared. "The Lag B'Omer Parade in Kiryat Shmona will be held. Wait, I am coming with Rabbi Aronow."
"I'll wait," I answered, a bit confused.
"Meanwhile katyushot started falling on the town, and we all went down to the air raid shelters. It was 12 noon, and out of nowhere, Rabbi Raichik, together with Rabbi Aronow, Chairman of Tzeirei Agudat Chabad and Rabbi Levi Edreyi arrived. How did they come so quickly? It was absolutely unreal.' Yossie looked at me as though there was no war going on and asked, 'Nu, where will the parade be?'
"I took them around the town, we went by the amphitheatre that was totally ready with posters, balloons and decorations for the Parade…We arrived at 2:30 in the afternoon at the Chabad House, after having to go into the nearest air-raid shelter because a katyusha fell. A police car drove by and Rabbi Raichik asked: 'Are the residents allowed out of the shelters now?'"
To our joy, the officers replied that there was an hour break to allow the residents to leave the shelters and stock up with food, etc. We drove around, with a loudspeaker organized on the spot, announcing the Big Parade and Happening."
The result, recalls Rabbi Tzipori, went beyond all expectations. Over 80 kids attended the Parade, which had a shorter program and was held in an improvised location. As soon as it was over, and all the participants had hurried back to their shelters, there was the screech of a katyusha that fell exactly where we had just gathered a few minutes earlier.
"During the second Lebanon War, Rabbi Raichik was also the one who called to find out how we were coping. He was not afraid of visiting, despite the shelling," continues Rabbi Yigal. "Also, due to him we receive $100,000 annually for our Soup Kitchen. Rabbi Raichik contacted the Chairman of the Claims Committee, and since then, for the past seven years, we have been receiving their support."
He concludes with an anecdote:
 "Every time they were in the North, the Raichiks, our friends, came to visit. One time he phoned, 'I'll be there in five minutes.' I was just in shul and we were about to start davening, but because I knew that Yossie was arriving in five minutes, I requested that we wait.
"As the minutes passed, some of those present showed signs of impatience. I tried to calm them down.... Half an hour later (!), Yossie came in, with such a wide smile that everyone responded with a smile. Wherever Yossie went, there were smiles."
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