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Meah Shearim, Israel - Inspired By His Own Hunger As A Child, Jerusalem Man Feeds Hundreds Of Families

Published on: August 14, 2013 12:43 PM
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In this Undated file photo 30 year old Yakov Shisha founder of Tov Vchesed standing center directing his volunteers with the package packingIn this Undated file photo 30 year old Yakov Shisha founder of Tov Vchesed standing center directing his volunteers with the package packing

Meah Shearim, Israel - A Jerusalem resident who, due to extreme poverty, was forced as a young child to take on the responsibility of bringing home food to feed his parents and siblings, has spent over a decade on a personal crusade to feed the hungry.

“I was the oldest of thirteen children and Baruch Hashem, my parents worked very, very hard to bring parnassa home,” Rabbi Yakov Schisha told VIN News.  “The money went for the rent, for schar limud for the children One month we pay the electric and telephone bill, one month not.  When it came to food, there was no money left.  At eight years old, my job was to bring food home.”

Schischa, who lived near Meah Shearim, would go to the shuk and ask for donations from merchants, oftentimes picking up fruits and vegetables that had fallen on the floor and were no longer saleable.

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“I went every Friday to Brezel’s bakery to take home the leftover challahs and mezonos before they closed,” recalled Schischa.  “In the middle of the week I would go to different organizations to pick up food.”

The wait for food at these distributions was frequently hours long and generally accompanied by pushing and shoving.

“I saw that the family was so happy when I brought food home,” said the thirty year old Schischa, who is now a father of seven. “But I also felt the embarrassment when I would have to stand there for a long time to get food.  I decided that when I was older I would find a good business and I would try to feed a hungry family.”

Schischa got married at 19 and shared his plans to feed another family with his wife just one week after they completed Sheva Brachos.

“I went every day in Shul and collected money, one shekel here, one shekel there,” said Schischa, who used the funds to purchase food for his parents and for a needy family.

“Every week it was one more family.  And then one more family.  And then another,” explained Schischa.

In this Undated file photo 30 year old Yakov Shisha founder of Tov Vchesed talking to one of the volunteers  with the package packing.In this Undated file photo 30 year old Yakov Shisha founder of Tov Vchesed talking to one of the volunteers with the package packing.

A few weeks later, Schischa received a $1000 contribution that was earmarked for Chanukah oil for the poor.  Schischa bought 200 small bottles of oil which he distributed to needy families, and seeing the happiness the donated oil brought, he started a small organization to help the indigent, doling out supplies for Purim and Pesach.

“I didn’t have a name for the organization yet, but I was just 20 years old and I had Kimcha D’Pischa for 200 families.”

Ten years later, Schischa’s small organization has evolved into Tov V’Chesed, which has offices in Jerusalem, New York and London.  Packages are distributed weekly, monthly and for holidays to needy families in various neighborhoods in Israel including Jerusalem, Bnei Brak, Beitar, Kiryat Sefer/Brachfeld and Beit Shemesh.

“Right now we distribute food for the holidays for 2500 families,” said Schischa.  “Every year, every two years, we open up one more place.”

Having experienced firsthand the difficulties that accompany poverty, Schischa prides himself on preserving the dignity of his recipients.  Food is delivered directly to the recipients front door in a plain unmarked box, looking no different than a grocery delivery from a local store.

“There are no signs on the trucks,” reported Schischa.  “I put one small letter on the outside of the box and the workers know that the letter needs to be placed next to the door so that only the family can see it and know that the box is from Tov V’chesed.”

In the letter, Schischa gives each family names of people to daven for.

“There are two reasons why we do this,” explained Schischa.  “One is that we know that if you daven for someone who has the same need as you, your tefillos are answered.  The other is that by giving them someone to daven for, we are giving people their dignity by making them feel that they aren’t just taking, they are givers as well.”

Schischa, who now has two successful businesses, ReserveKosher.com and YES Management, to his credit, relies on donations to fund Tov V’Chesed’s annual budget of $2.5 million.  He estimates that he sends out weekly packages, consisting of fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, cake and grape juice to 85 families and monthly packages of staples such as canned goods, sugar, flour, oil, lokshen and farfel to 300 families.  Additionally, Schischa distributes 2,500 packages of food for the yomim tovim and food coupons to another 900 families, in addition to offering assistance with medical issues, bar mitzvahs and weddings.

Schischa, whose warehouse is currently located on Rechov Yirmiyahu in Jerusalem, hopes to be moving to a larger facility shortly.  Despite the many families he feeds on an annual basis, he hopes to continue expanding his operations in order to accommodate the one thousand plus families currently on his waiting list.

“When a family calls me to say thank you, I think about me when I was a child in my parents’ house and the simcha there would be when we would have food,” said Schischa.  “I remember also the days when I went to sleep hungry, and when I would stand up in the morning and go to cheder with no food.  When families are happy, I am happy.”

Online:
www.tovvchesed.com.



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Read Comments (46)  —  Post Yours »

2

 Aug 14, 2013 at 12:50 PM Anonymous Says:

Thanks Vin. With all the sickness in the news, this was an inspirational story.

Thanks again for sharing it.

3

 Aug 14, 2013 at 12:51 PM heissezali Says:

i know him. he's a very nice person. additional to all this he hosts 40 - 50 bochurim for the shabbos meals every week and serves very generously

4

 Aug 14, 2013 at 01:00 PM My2Cents Says:

Beautiful story and a beautiful soul. Kol Hakavod

5

 Aug 14, 2013 at 01:05 PM Anonymous Says:

מי כעמך ישרא-ל

7

 Aug 14, 2013 at 01:34 PM The_Truth Says:

Wow. Brings tears to my eyes, reading how at 8 years old he would try support his family. Kol Hakavod for getting so far and supporting so many.

8

 Aug 14, 2013 at 01:37 PM sheepheadsbayyid Says:

great story great guy

9

 Aug 14, 2013 at 01:42 PM Anonymous Says:

KOL HAKAVOD!

10

 Aug 14, 2013 at 01:59 PM Anonymous Says:

Charedi does not mean chassideshe.

11

 Aug 14, 2013 at 02:01 PM ALTERG Says:

Where are all the jew haters comments from every day?

12

 Aug 14, 2013 at 02:05 PM remusi Says:

Thank you VIN for this inspiring article about R' Yakov Lazer Shisha. Just goes to show what one determined person can do to make the world a better place...

And thank you to the dedicated volunteers who are behind the scenes enabling R' Y.E.S. to do this amazing work for Klal Yisroel!

13

 Aug 14, 2013 at 02:10 PM YID41 Says:

I know him personally, he's one of klal yisroels hidden gems, a real emesdiga yid, loves everyone equally, great guy running a great worthwhile organization. I wish him success in everything he does.
I'm happy VIN picked up on his story.

14

 Aug 14, 2013 at 02:35 PM Anonymous Says:

Great story, but there also has to be a system where men provide for their families. Learning in kollel and getting a measly stipend cannot support 12 children.

15

 Aug 14, 2013 at 02:43 PM Refyok Says:

Great story. What would be even better is if there were no need for so many families to go hungry without tzedakkah. Unfortunately the charedi system is designed to produce people with little opportunity to get decent jobs since they are denied the needed education from the time they start school. To add to that they're encouraged to have children even when they can't afford to feed, educate and clothe them. An even better story would be to see a change in the lifestyle which will continue to necessitate such stories.

16

 Aug 14, 2013 at 02:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Good job. But it would be an even greater Kiddush hashem if he fought hunger via jobs. I am still waiting to see one of these guys open up some job training organizations (like PCS) to fight hunger.

17

 Aug 14, 2013 at 02:59 PM Rut24 Says:

What a chesed! May we only hear more good stories!

18

 Aug 14, 2013 at 03:02 PM kiri49 Says:

I know Yaakov Lazer for many years and I've been supporting this organization for a while. It is indeed a wonderful organization worth supporting. I'm glad VIN put him in the spot light.

19

 Aug 14, 2013 at 03:07 PM destro613 Says:

Let's see you profile Leket, the #1 food bank in israel also only started in the last decade

20

 Aug 14, 2013 at 03:09 PM MAYERFREUND Says:

Where are the ones that always criticize the chariedim of meah she'orim that this is bitul torah etc.?

21

 Aug 14, 2013 at 03:24 PM BiEmet Yesh Tikvah Says:

If only there were more like this young man--the story is inspiring--I plan to look this up and send in a donation. מי כעמך ישראל

22

 Aug 14, 2013 at 03:46 PM chaimme Says:

very inspiring story. However what i found disturbing was how he went out to find food etc for his family who all worked very hard but could not make a parnasa. I wonder how the world would look if those that could work and support families did work and support their families and we were left with only supporting the real neady, those that simply cannot make it through work or are sick.

23

 Aug 14, 2013 at 03:46 PM MAYERFREUND Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

Great story, but there also has to be a system where men provide for their families. Learning in kollel and getting a measly stipend cannot support 12 children.

Why don't you put your money where your mouth is? Go around and find better paying jobs for all those people that need them. If you don't qualify to do this then please send him money so he can give to every needy family on his list enough to survive if the parent can't make it. If you don't have the money please go around and collect from the rich and send it to him. One thing is certain don't just sit by your computer and complain this is no help at all.

24

 Aug 14, 2013 at 03:49 PM Zeidy Says:

I know him personal he loves giving people to eat. He has 30-35 guests every Shabbas. He is an amazing person

25

 Aug 14, 2013 at 04:40 PM Kzler Says:

I wonder if he is related to the Schischa family from Vienna who had a large grocery store in Vienna and we used to buy there items Pessach or rather erev pessach

26

 Aug 14, 2013 at 04:45 PM LEEAVE Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

Good job. But it would be an even greater Kiddush hashem if he fought hunger via jobs. I am still waiting to see one of these guys open up some job training organizations (like PCS) to fight hunger.

maybe u open up some training courses, instead of sitting on your lazyboy and giving advice to a man who is dedicated 24/7 helping others

27

 Aug 14, 2013 at 05:05 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #15  
Refyok Says:

Great story. What would be even better is if there were no need for so many families to go hungry without tzedakkah. Unfortunately the charedi system is designed to produce people with little opportunity to get decent jobs since they are denied the needed education from the time they start school. To add to that they're encouraged to have children even when they can't afford to feed, educate and clothe them. An even better story would be to see a change in the lifestyle which will continue to necessitate such stories.

You write "What would be even better is if there were no need for so many families to go hungry without tzedakkah."
did you ever see this?
דברים טו ראה
כי יה־יה אביון
מאחד אחיך באחד שעריך בארץ אשר יהוה אלהיך נתן לך לא
תאמץ את־לבבך ולא תקפץ את ידך מאחיך האביון: כי־פתח
תפתח את ידך לו והעבט תעביטנו די מחסרו אשר יחסר לו:
..... השמר לך פך יהיה דבר עם לבבך בליעל לאמר
וראה עינך באחיך האביון ולא תתן לו וקרא
עליך אל־יהוה והיה בך חטא: נתון תתן לו ולא-ירע לבבך בתתך
לו כי בגלל הדבר הזה וברכך יהוה אלהיך בכל־מעשך ובכל
ידך משלח
כי
לא יחדל אביון מקרב הארץ
על כן אנכי מצוך
לאמר פתח תפתח את־ידך לאחיך לעניך ולאבינך בארצך

28

 Aug 14, 2013 at 05:12 PM clear-thinker Says:

Reply to #11  
ALTERG Says:

Where are all the jew haters comments from every day?

It is a wonderful story, about an inspiring person. Since you are one of the few haters of the Jewish people who regularly writes here. I suggest looking in a mirror.

29

 Aug 14, 2013 at 05:38 PM themima Says:

Instead of complaining that THOSE people don't get jobs and need food etc. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT YOURSELF! open your own organization that helps fellow jews.

30

 Aug 14, 2013 at 05:47 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #15  
Refyok Says:

Great story. What would be even better is if there were no need for so many families to go hungry without tzedakkah. Unfortunately the charedi system is designed to produce people with little opportunity to get decent jobs since they are denied the needed education from the time they start school. To add to that they're encouraged to have children even when they can't afford to feed, educate and clothe them. An even better story would be to see a change in the lifestyle which will continue to necessitate such stories.

if the zionists didnt require to break our religion and join their shmad factory aka army in order to work, more haredim would work, as we do here in the USA, a truly free country unlike israel

31

 Aug 14, 2013 at 05:55 PM Erlich Says:

Even better would be for all the poor to have a parnasa and get a secular education.
Teach a man to fish and he has fish for a lifetime.

32

 Aug 14, 2013 at 05:57 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

Great story, but there also has to be a system where men provide for their families. Learning in kollel and getting a measly stipend cannot support 12 children.

Did you read the article? It says how hard his father WORKED and he still couldn't provide for his family.

33

 Aug 14, 2013 at 06:04 PM Refyok Says:

How is it muttar to take his time away from torah? And all the volunteers look like bochrim who should be learning too. It's not Tov V'chesed thats really providing the food anyway. It's all min hashamayim.
Oh wait....I forgot....that argument only works when it's used to avoid the army.

34

 Aug 14, 2013 at 06:09 PM Gatzel Says:

Reply to #25  
Kzler Says:

I wonder if he is related to the Schischa family from Vienna who had a large grocery store in Vienna and we used to buy there items Pessach or rather erev pessach

Yes! That was his Great grandfather/Grandfather. I wonderful family.

35

 Aug 14, 2013 at 06:24 PM Refyok Says:

Reply to #32  
Anonymous Says:

Did you read the article? It says how hard his father WORKED and he still couldn't provide for his family.

Did YOU read the article? His father had 13 children. If he couldn't feed them maybe he shouldn't have had so many.

36

 Aug 14, 2013 at 08:24 PM chaimme Says:

Reply to #30  
Anonymous Says:

if the zionists didnt require to break our religion and join their shmad factory aka army in order to work, more haredim would work, as we do here in the USA, a truly free country unlike israel

you are a sick individual.why should my sons blood be any less imprtant than yours.

37

 Aug 14, 2013 at 08:38 PM MarkTwain2 Says:

Reply to #11  
ALTERG Says:

Where are all the jew haters comments from every day?

Today is alternate parking day on Avenue VIN.

38

 Aug 14, 2013 at 08:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #30  
Anonymous Says:

if the zionists didnt require to break our religion and join their shmad factory aka army in order to work, more haredim would work, as we do here in the USA, a truly free country unlike israel

You have zero hakaras tov. The reason why haredim work in the US is because no one is paying them to sit in yeshivas. In Israel, there is no incentive for haredim to work. By the way, the army that you despise is the one that keeps the haredim safe.

39

 Aug 14, 2013 at 10:42 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #35  
Refyok Says:

Did YOU read the article? His father had 13 children. If he couldn't feed them maybe he shouldn't have had so many.

This comment hurt me really deeply. Hashem is the One Who creates the child & He's the One Who chooses who will be born & to whom. We may think we can decide how may children to have and how many we can provide for, but Hashem creates them & He has the final say. You can do all the hishtadlus & contraceptives & all that, but if Hashem wants you to have more children, you will.
And of course lehefech. Once He has created them, He will also provide for all their needs.

40

 Aug 15, 2013 at 11:08 AM #26 Says:

Reply to #26  
LEEAVE Says:

maybe u open up some training courses, instead of sitting on your lazyboy and giving advice to a man who is dedicated 24/7 helping others

Thats the probelm. I would. But they will never let. It would be chazor treif to use the internet, learn secular courses, and shtel tzu to the tzionim. Don't forget R Shtienman set up a great Vaddas Tal deal. Those older (like 28) with kids can do some volunteer army service for a short period of time and can go to work. When I say short I mean like someone I know who worked in a kitchen for the army for six weeks. Come on are you going off the derech and becoming a big tzioni from that. Vadas Tal never took off because of the hot heards. Bottom line if I started my program in EY/ Meah shearim my windows would be broken and I'd be ex communicated in a day.

Oh and by the way personally I do volunteer to help others find jobs in the USA and DO NOT " sit on my lazyboy" but thats a side point.

41

 Aug 15, 2013 at 11:11 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #29  
themima Says:

Instead of complaining that THOSE people don't get jobs and need food etc. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT YOURSELF! open your own organization that helps fellow jews.

I do not have the capacity to open organizations but I do volunteer withi existing organizations to help jews. So now I can complain and I will.

42

 Aug 15, 2013 at 11:13 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #30  
Anonymous Says:

if the zionists didnt require to break our religion and join their shmad factory aka army in order to work, more haredim would work, as we do here in the USA, a truly free country unlike israel

Baloney. For years R Aron Lieb had vadas Tal as I wrote in another post. It was the biggest joke. A six week voulnteer in an army kitchen and then these guys can go to work. Is there Shmad in that? Where are all the working guys?

43

 Aug 15, 2013 at 11:14 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #32  
Anonymous Says:

Did you read the article? It says how hard his father WORKED and he still couldn't provide for his family.

Please you think his father was an accountant? He "WORKED" as a sofer melamad etc..

44

 Aug 15, 2013 at 11:42 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
The_Truth Says:

Wow. Brings tears to my eyes, reading how at 8 years old he would try support his family. Kol Hakavod for getting so far and supporting so many.

And he's not the only one. Take walk around th Meah ShearimShuk and you'll see a few kids not older than 8 begging from the customers......

45

 Aug 15, 2013 at 11:46 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #14  
Anonymous Says:

Great story, but there also has to be a system where men provide for their families. Learning in kollel and getting a measly stipend cannot support 12 children.

Do they all learn in koilel? This particular man is - judging by his clothes - an adherant of either Toldos Ahron or Toldos Avrohom Yitzhok. They actually make a point of working. Sure they marry young and learn for a few more years after their marriage, but then they go out to work. The problem is that the wages are so low no one could survive on such a small amount.

46

 Aug 15, 2013 at 02:20 PM skenvenzan Says:

Reply to #33  
Refyok Says:

How is it muttar to take his time away from torah? And all the volunteers look like bochrim who should be learning too. It's not Tov V'chesed thats really providing the food anyway. It's all min hashamayim.
Oh wait....I forgot....that argument only works when it's used to avoid the army.

Aha. So ur philosophy is that bochrim shud only learn and never implement anything stated in the Torah in real life, like the chesed of helping thousands of poor families. Okaaaaaaaaaaay......... and how bout you stop working and say food 4 ur family is min hashamayim?

47

 Aug 15, 2013 at 02:28 PM skenvenzan Says:

This man is amazing. We need more people like him.

48

 Aug 15, 2013 at 04:00 PM Refyok Says:

Reply to #46  
skenvenzan Says:

Aha. So ur philosophy is that bochrim shud only learn and never implement anything stated in the Torah in real life, like the chesed of helping thousands of poor families. Okaaaaaaaaaaay......... and how bout you stop working and say food 4 ur family is min hashamayim?

You should have understood from the last line that I am mocking those that say the same about the army.

49

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