“I’m not sure who to worry about more – our students who are trapped in terrible home situations in isolation, or their parents who have lost their jobs and their hope,” said Boys Town Jerusalem Jewish Studies Principal Rabbi Elimelech Yaakov. “Both are desperately calling me, and we’re searching together for help.”

For Rabbi Yaakov and his colleagues, the urgent needs of hundreds of boys at risk have dominated their waking hours since Israeli schools and dormitories were closed due to the Coronavirus crisis.

“For our many students who have no real home outside of Boys Town, we’ve worked nonstop to find places for them with distant relatives or friends. We phone every day, and sometimes more, to talk with each student about what’s on his mind and heart.”

The unprecedented crisis is actually twofold, explains Rabbi Yaakov. “One after another, parents are contacting me to beg for help. The single mother of one senior student just phoned, sobbing, to say she had been laid off her job indefinitely, and she had no idea how to pay for her son’s tuition.

Moments later her son phoned asking to work for the school. ‘Please Rabbi,’ he begged, ‘My mother is falling apart, and I feel so helpless.’

“As I tried to console both mother and son by assuring them we will waive tuition and help in any other way, two other parents phoned with similar stories of distress,” Rabbi Yaakov reported. “Along with illness and death, the coronavirus has brought massive unemployment to our students’ already-vulnerable families.

With a bleak reality facing so many Boys Town Jerusalem’s boys, their families and the world at large, Rabbi Yaakov remains certain that together we can weather the crisis. “While we pray to the Almighty to bless His world with good health, we are discovering the powerful inner strength – and mutual compassion – to carry us all from these times of despair to times of joy.”

To help Boys Town Jerusalem care for students in crisis, click here to donate.

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