A New Year’s Shopping Spree of Love

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Even the most experienced “seen-it-all” shoppers in Jerusalem’s Malha Mall shot curious glances towards the tiny lady who ushered 20 teenage boys into top clothing shops to outfit them for the Jewish New Year. Moving swiftly from rack to rack, she deftly pulled out a selection of shirts, pants, and suits for the boys to try on, and then carefully checked to see how each item fit. For their part, the boys were clearly savoring every minute.

“Most important, they were quite touched that someone was thinking of them.”

Far from just a shopping spree, this eye-catching scenario was actually a dream come true for not only the teenagers, all disadvantaged students at Boys Town Jerusalem, but also for their dorm mother Rachel Cohen-Pur. And although he was half a world away, the compassionate man who funded the new holiday clothes was guided by the spirit of kindness, love, generosity and the Jewish way of life that his mother had taught him.

Dorm mother Rachel Cohen-Pur, who also serves as the Boys Town Jerusalem registrar, is well known for her tireless care and concern for hundreds of “her boys” in the school. Among her endless efforts on their behalf is to collect used clothing which she cleans, mends and irons before distributing to students in need. When longtime BTJ supporter Mr. Dale Senehi became aware of her endeavors, he contributed special funds to buy brand new clothing for students in particular need. His only request was that the boys honor the memory of his late mother, Heshmat Senehi Benhaim, the inspiration for this undertaking.

“She could only dream of buying beautiful new clothes for the holidays, and she was keenly aware of how much this meant to each boy.”

Rachel then faced the difficult task of determining which boys, from among the large number of needy students, would receive the new clothes. Ultimately she gave preference to orphans and boys from homes in very desperate straits. Their shopping trip was indeed an adventure they’ll never forget. “Some of the boys couldn’t believe that they were really buying these clothes,” Rachel said. “Most important, they were quite touched that someone was thinking of them.”

For Rachel, the experience was especially poignant. “When I told my own mother about this project, her eyes filled with tears. Like Heshmat Senehi Benhaim, my mother was born in Iran, orphaned at an early age, and had no food or clothes. She could only dream of buying beautiful new clothes for the holidays, and she was keenly aware of how much this meant to each boy.

“Now we’re especially looking forward to the New Year holidays,” Rachel exclaimed. “The boys will be so handsome and excited as they enter the synagogue. Of course I remain worried about our many students facing painful needs, but I pray that we’ll always be blessed with generous, caring friends. May the entire House of Israel be granted a wonderful New Year!”

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