Founded in 1975, F.R.E.E. in Baltimore is skillfully headed by the dynamic Rebbitzen Feldman. In conjunction with a group of dedicated volunteers, she works tirelessly day and night in arranging programs, classes, events, functions, and services for the Russian families in her area.
"The Associated Charities and Welfare Fund, with its various agencies, has been doing a magnificent job of helping our Russian newcomers get settled physically and materially," commented Rebbitzen Feldman. "It is our job, as Orthodox Jews, to assist in their religious guidance."
"Although a few older Jews have a faint recollection of their Jewish tradition, the great majority arrive here almost completely alienated f rom their religion. Six decades of Communist propaganda has left these people with distorted conceptions of Judaism. F.R.E.E. has devoted an enormous effort to winning over these newly arrived Russian Jews to a committed way of Jewish living. The time and energy expended to befriend and assist our new friends are incalculable."
Among F.R.E.E.'s accomplishments in Baltimore, the following rank highly:
• Registration of over 50 Russian children in Bais Yaakov School for Girls and Talmudical Academy Chofetz Chaim Yeshiva for Boys.
• Succos, Chanukah, and Purim parties with all the trimmings in numerous co-operating synagogues.
• Bar Mitzvah preparations and celebrations.
• The distribution of holiday booklets, candlesticks, Chanukah menorahs, Tefillin, Mezuzos, and other religious articles throughout the year.
• Lectures in English, Yiddish, and Russian on various religious topics.
• Scholarships for Russian children in summer camps.
• Arrangements for discounts on Kosher meat and poultry for interested families.
• Classes in English reading and grammar.
• Obtained free tickets to various Jewish concerts and affairs through the courtesy of various Jewish organizations.
• Presently establishing a Judaic lending library containing books in English and Russian.
With varying degrees, the Russians in the Baltimore area are quite responsive to F.R.E.E.'s efforts. When asked for her formula of success, Rebbitzen Feldman replied, "Long hours, lots of leg work, and huge helpings of compassion and warmth. From morning to night, my phone is busy with our Russian friends. Whatever the problem, I try to assure them that I am interested in them and sincerely try to help them. Their entrance into a new society and way of life can be a terrifying experience, and I realize that any help I can give them will be greatly appreciated."
All in all, Rebbitzen Feldman must be doing something right, because her success is immeasurable. Her list of activities alone testifies to the scope of the work involved. In placing over 50 children in Yeshivos and Day Schools, F.R.E.E. has given Baltimore the highest percentage of Russian children attending such schools! Her dedication on behalf of the growing Russian-Jewish community is certainly praiseworthy, but Rebbitzen Feldman's success is even more worthy of praise; the proof is in the pudding, and Rebbitzen Feldman's pudding constantly comes out exceptionally well!
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