The Jewish Relief Society has merged into the Cleveland Chesed Center in Cleveland Heights.

Chesed Center Director Rabbi Avrohom Adler first contacted Jewish Relief Society President Milane Aboody almost two years ago wanting to collaborate after hearing about her organization.

The Jewish Relief Society “has actually been in existence for over a hundred years in Cleveland,” Adler said. “What they did was they were really focused more on the holiday season and it was initially before Pesach and also Rosh Hashanah they would give out packages.”

Adler said Aboody invited him to a meeting at one of their board member’s houses where he presented on the kosher food bank’s current work and future goals to aid community members.

“They were very excited and they identified our organization as one they would want to, so to speak, pass the baton to,” Adler explained. “Their board was getting older and they did not have as many volunteers as they used to have. So, therefore, they were looking for an organization like ours with younger blood and people that would be more willing and able to pack boxes and deliver boxes and distribute to be able to help out the families that they have been helping.”

Noting the Jewish Relief Society was a board-run organization with no paid employees and no physical location, Adler said the Chesed Center will absorb two Jewish Relief Society board members.

“It will be the Chesed Center’s organization and we’re just going to continue on with their legacy,” Adler said.

Describing the Chesed Center as a nimble organization, he said the merger happened at a good time.

The kosher food bank’s matching campaign usually happens each July, but this year due to increased expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chesed Center will hold its annual fundraiser on June 14 and June 15. Adler hopes the merger will strengthen the organization’s reach, allowing it to benefit more clients.

Historically, the Chesed Center’s campaign has consisted of a 24 to 36 hour telethon with 50 to 100 volunteers making calls out of its Cleveland Heights location, Adler said. “This year that will not be possible, so people will be making calls from their homes. It will be different; it will be more challenging.”

Noting the organization’s fundraising goal has increased this year, Adler added, “Hopefully, with the grace of God, we’ll be successful and be able to hit our goal and our budget and be able to help the Cleveland Jewish community.”

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