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Everyone’s a Winner!

Gavriel Horan

You’re probably familiar with baseball, soccer, and football leagues for Jewish boys — but have you ever heard of a chesed league before?

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

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T he Baltimore Chesed League (BCL) was founded in 2017 to encourage boys to do chesed in a positive, fun way. Many boys in Baltimore already participate in community sports teams, and the Chesed League was modeled after sports leagues, complete with teams, uniforms, and coaches — all “competing.”

How Does It Work?

This year, 78 participants from various Baltimore yeshivos, grades five through eight, were divided into 12 teams. Each week, teams can earn a total of 20 points by participating in “big” or “small” chesed projects. Sunday afternoons, teams are assigned a “big” chesed project such as helping package food for the needy, visiting the sick or elderly, or cleaning up at the Hatzolah station. The projects usually take between one and two hours to finish, and successful completion of a project is worth between 10 to 15 points. To earn additional points, team members can also fulfill individual “small” cheseds on their own such as helping to set up or clean up at a father/son learning session, or a kiddush; helping a neighbor shovel their walk; or visiting an elderly person on Shabbos afternoon. At the end of every two weeks, any teams that earned 40 points won a prize such as a pizza party, bowling, or dinner at Dougie’s BBQ.

How did the Baltimore Chesed League start?

“A group of parents noticed that although multiple programs existed to involve and engage girls in chesed activities, far fewer opportunities existed for boys,” says Dovy Ziffer, one of the Chesed League founders. “The BCL was created to address that need in a meaningful and creative way. We think it’s important to find ways to engage our children in helping community organizations so that once they grow up, they will already be familiar with the organizations’ missions and roles, and will be much more prepared to step in and help.”


One of the team coaches, Gary Guttenberg, described what he feels is the main benefit of the league: “Besides the zechus of the mitzvos performed, it is inspiring to see boys devote time to perform chesed and grow in their middos. Some weeks the boys feel comfortable right away with the task at hand, while other weeks they have to step out of their comfort zone to fully perform what is needed. Their growth is the main thing!”

Kids Speak

“The Baltimore Chesed League showed me how just one hour of time each Sunday can make such an impact on a person or organization.” —Moshe Langer, eighth grade

“BCL is a great program because it’s fun and also helpful for the community. I enjoyed doing activities with my friends and seeing how we can make other people happy through our help.” —Yair Ziffer, sixth grade

“BCL turned chesed into fun!” —Yosef Chaim Weil, sixth grade

“For the first time I realized that chesed can be fun also. We also did things that I wouldn’t have thought were chesed but they actually helped people! It felt really accomplishing to help them.” —Naftali Fischler, sixth grade.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 708)

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