THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON OF ALL
Beyond their classroom studies, Boys Town Jerusalem students learn lessons-for-life from a petite, loving woman known as “Mama Rachel.”
As both the school’s registrar and dorm mother, Rachel Cohen-Pur is continually surrounded by students who flock to the haven of her office. Yet, beyond the care, food, clothing, and love she gives is the crucial lesson she teaches these boys to give themselves.
This year of the pandemic, Rachel reports that greater numbers of students are working at odd jobs after school/Zoom lessons. While she encourages them to earn money and lend a helping hand to their families, she is passionate in reminding students of their obligation to give tzedakah (charity) to the poor.
“Two brothers came this morning to each proudly hand me 100 NIS ($30) out of their earnings from cleaning jobs. Their home situation is quite difficult, and they’re doing their part to help out. But first, they came to give to those in even greater need.” Rachel said. The brothers were soon followed by a 12th grader who gave Rachel 400 shekels from his earnings as a deliveryman.
The majority of the tzedakah money goes to families who are hungry, Rachel notes. She often sends students to buy food with the money collected, which she personally delivers to needy families throughout the city. Whether or not they’re working, all students can lend a hand to Rachel’s efforts on behalf of the poor. One corner of her office is designated for empty bottles which carry a 10-cent deposit. From these carefully collected bottles, she happily reports redeeming $80 which she brought to a widow with young children.
“Even grads keep coming back to share their earnings with the needy,” Rachel smiles. “The most important lesson for our boys is to realize that life is about helping others, and we all have a commitment to do so.”