180 years ago the ‘Rabbi Meir Baal HaNess Fund’ of Kollel Chibas Yerushalayim was established for the pioneering Jews of Galicia who had merited to settle in Eretz Yisrael. When the leaders of the generation were honoured with presidency of the organisation, they encouraged their followers to take their rightful share of the mitzva of ‘Yishuv ha’aretz, a commandment they were physically unable to fulfil. These Gedolei haDor themselves were ecstatic to somewhat satisfy their deep yearning for Eretz Yisrael by actively participating in the lives of those who had settled there, and they supported the Fund wholeheartedly. Collections were made throughout the world, and the money given was termed ‘Shekel Kodesh’. An unbreakable bond was formed between the diverse communities of the Jewish world, and each contributor tangibly felt that his support of the Jews of Eretz Yisrael was not merely technical, but spiritual and holy. It expressed his longing for Eretz Yisrael and his joy at the rebuilding of the land.
Each contribution was recorded for posterity with the name of the benefactor, his hometown and the amount of the donation. Over the years, the Admorim and Rabbanim began to discern miraculous incidents that seemed to transpire to those who contributed to the Kollel, and they made this fact public knowledge. ‘Kuppat Rabbi Meir Baal haNess’ became the thread of loving-kindness that stretched between all Jewish communities: one end woven in the hands of previous generations, and the other end spun by the leaders of today. The activities of the Kollel, which encompasses long periods in Jewish history, is intertwined with eternal values that has guarded our nation throughout the generations and in whose merit we were saved from bondage and will in the future be redeemed once again: “that they did not change their names, language or mode of dress”.
As of today, the extensive activities of the Kollel provide the answer to many of the financial pitfalls afflicting the finest of our families. The Kollel has set up varied and specified funds for the benefit of those in need – such as professional dental services, which provide subsidised treatment to young families who would otherwise be staggering under the enormous expenses entailed; a thriving clothing enterprise which supplies families with respectable clothing at low prices, and so forth. The ‘Keren Kayemes’ fund expresses the intimate connection between Jews of all origins, ensuring that Mishnayos is studied and Kaddish recited on behalf of departed souls. From there it followed naturally that the ‘Chevra Kadisha of Chibas Yerushalayim’ would emerge, which continued the thread of ‘Chessed shel Emess’ (true kindness) with its patronage of the ‘Galician Plot’ on Har Hazeisim.