A message of thanks from Bambi
Thank you from the bottom of my heart to those who participated in our B”H very successful Matanos L’evyonim drive. On the special day of Purim we were able to distribute NIS 69,000 to 58 families and transform their days from sorrow to gladness, מיגון לשמחה.
Wishing everyone a happy & healthy Pesach. Chag Kasher v’Sameach!
Rachel Bamberger Chalkowski, affectionately known as Bambi, directs one of the most highly esteemed tzedaka organizations in Israel. Assisted by an international network of volunteers, Matan B’Seter Bambi alleviates the physical and emotional strain of Israeli families who are undergoing medical and social crises.
Over 400 families receive monthly stipends, with an additional 600 or more families receiving help before the holidays, and many emergency cases as well. Bambi’s annual budget is over one million dollars and 97% of every dollar goes directly to those in need. This money helps pay for the most basic of human needs- food, rent, utilities, and medical help- when conventional channels have been exhausted. Moreover, Bambi provides her aid with sensitivity and dignity.
Please consider a generous gift. In return, you will receive the grateful blessings of all those whom you have helped.
On Purim there is a special mitzvah to give Matanos L’Evyonim (monetary gifts to the poor). Bambi has a special Purim fundraising drive to help about 50 Israeli families in need who live outside of Jerusalem– in Beit Shemesh, Beitar, Modiin Illit, and Haifa.
Funds for this special drive are raised by the sale of unique Purim cards. These cards are a great way to show your appreciation to those closest to you. At the same time, you will be performing the mitzvah of Matanos L’evyonim by supporting families in need.
Matan B’seter Bambi distributes regular monthly stipends to over 400 Israeli families who are undergoing a medical or social crisis. Amounts distributed to each family range from $500 to $1,000. Each family’s case is carefully reviewed before assistance is offered, and families are monitored for changing circumstances. Assistance is given to cover the basic necessities of life, such as food, rent, utilities, and medical care not normally covered by Kupat Cholim (Israel’s national insurance).
Holidays, which should be a time of happiness, are often a source of financial stress and despair for people in need. Due to the special demands of Yom Tov, over 1,000 families receive between $100 – $500, each according to its need. In total, Bambi distributes about $500,000 for Pesach and Succos. This is in addition to Bambi’s regular monthly distributions.
There is a special Emergency Fund for people in dire need of money for rent or utilities, essential appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines, eyeglasses for children, hearing aids, medication or other medical expenses not paid for by Kupat Cholim. Often, Bambi does not have adequate funds to meet all these emergency needs.
Donations of new or gently used children’s clothing enable hundreds of poor people to warm the hearts and bodies of their infants and children. Clothes are distributed to the poorest communities in Jerusalem and its surrounding areas. Montreal, Denver, and many New York area communities are an integral part of this special project.
Several gemachs (free loan organizations) operate in cooperation with Matan B’Seter Bambi but have separate bank accounts. These gemachs make interest-free loans to families in need.
One of these gemachs is dedicated to education and job training. Another gemach lends money to needy families to be used for housing, to pay for weddings, and medical needs. Borrowers must provide two guarantors and a specific repayment plan.
One of Bambi’s newest projects raises money to buy tefillin for needy Bar Mitzvah boys. Many of Bambi’s families do not have the means to purchase tefillin for their sons when they become Bar Mitzvah, as they cost $1,800 and up. Instead, each day these boys must borrow or share other people’s tefillin in order to pray. Imagine the genuine joy of the new Bar Mitzvah boy when he receives his very own pair of Tefillin! Additionally, the Bar Mitzvah boy gets a new suit and hat for the occasion.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the News
“A Glimpse Into The Life of Rebbitzen Rochel Chalkowski: A Role Model of Chesed” – Leah Kotkes
(downloadable pdf file – requires Adobe Acrobat to read)
Jewish News Weekly of Northern California
“Surviving WWII, Israeli midwife turns to aiding others” – Adam Jessel
“Jerusalem’s Bambi” – Adam Jessel
About the Founder
Rachel Bamberger Chalkowski, affectionately known as Bambi, is the legendary midwife of Jerusalem. Over her distinguished fifty-year career at Shaare Tzedek Hospital, she has delivered more than 40,000 babies. However, Bambi’s concern for families extends far beyond the delivery room, and she has devoted her life to to helping Israeli families in crisis.
Bambi herself is no stranger to the struggle for survival. As a child in France, Bambi fled from the Nazis and spent the war in hiding. After the war, her family was “adopted” by an American family whose generosity kept them afloat.
Bambi immigrated to Israel by herself when she was still a teenager. There she began a lifetime of service devoted to her people- first as a nurse and chief midwife at Shaare Tzedek, and later as the tireless force behind the tzedaka that she founded, Matan B’Seter Bambi.
About the Organization
It all started with a phone call from friends in Lucerne, Switzerland during the Yom Kippur War (1973). Everyone was frightened by the direction that the war had taken and wanted to do something for Israel.
Bambi suggested they start a small tzedaka project because, as it says, charity saves a person from death. Their small community decided to adopt three Israeli families who were in great financial need by giving them the equivalent of 100 dollars each month. This was the beginning of the organization ‘Matan B’Seter (anonymous giving) Bambi.’
Fundraising for Israeli families in need spread from Lucerne to Milan, to Antwerp, then London, and eventually to New York. Today, there are many fundraising chapters throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Europe, and Israel.
Matan B’Seter Bambi’s current annual budget of $1.3 million helps over 400 Israeli families monthly (with an additional 600 families receiving help before the holidays) who are not only impoverished, but who are undergoing severe medical or social crises.
People are referred to us by Rabbis, doctors, and social workers. We are careful to review each person’s medical and social documents before offering assistance, and we monitor our families for changes in their circumstances. In complex cases, we seek rabbinical guidance and our tzedaka has been endorsed by many prominent rabbis. The amazing thing about Matan B’Seter Bambi is the modesty and dignity with which the money is collected and distributed.
Our families include widows and single parent families, adults and children with debilitating illnesses, (such as blindness, cardiac conditions, psychiatric disorders, cystic fibrosis, juvenile diabetes, autism, and cerebral palsy.) We also help abused women and agunot (abandoned wives).
Our families cannot afford even the basic necessities of life– food, rent, and utilities–let alone the extra costs of their medical care. For example, the cost of many important medications are not totally covered by the National Health Insurance. Dental work is also not covered, nor is medical equipment such as eye glasses, hearing aids, and wheelchairs.
We do our utmost to keep our overhead very low. Almost all of our work is done by volunteers. We work from our homes, saving the expense of an office. Out of the total donations, only 3-4% is used to cover mailing and professional accounting services.
Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt’l
Harav Shmuel Auerbach zt’l
Harav Yosef Shlomo Elyashiv zt’l
Harav Shlomo Wolbe zt’l
Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l
Harav Binyomin Finkel shlit’a
Harav Lipa Geldwerth shlit’a
Harav Yaakov Hillel shlit’a
Harav Aharon Kahn shlit’a
Harav Malkiel Kotler shlit’a
Harav Uri Lupolianski shlit’a, former mayor of Jerusalem
Harav Matisyahu Salomon shlit’a
Harav Baruch Soloveitchik shlit’a
Matan B’Seter Bambi
1667 54th Street • Brooklyn, NY 11204
Phone: (718) 436-6556
Purim Cards: (732) 901-2262