Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Playing It Safe

Michal Eisikowitz

“It takes a community to protect a child, and it takes a community to allow abuse,” says Debbie Fox, founder of Safety Kid in Los Angeles. Eli and Shani Verschleiser, a dynamic couple from Flatbush, want to make sure their own city’s schools are safe, and have brought Safety Kid to yeshivos and Bais Yaakovs in Brooklyn as well. With parents and educators involved, they want to make sure there are no holes in the safety net.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Eli Verschleiser has zero patience for bureaucracy, dawdling, or even public recognition. Recipients of his incisive, no-fluff, arriving-within-seconds e-mails get the gist quickly: this is a man who gets things done — and fast.

Born and bred inLakewood, and today the president of United Realty Trust, Inc., a public company on Wall Street, this well-spoken father of four has built a reputation as a savvy investor, doing deals with moguls the likes of Donald Trump.

But behind the shrewd businessman lining is a golden heart fueling a fiery passion for helping out those less fortunate, and he and his wife Shani have become particularly drawn to tackling underdog causes and stuffed-under-the-rug initiatives that promise little glory. For years, the Verschleisers have been mainstays of Our Place, a Brooklyn–based center for Jewish teens struggling with substance abuse and related issues.

This past year, the Verschleisers have added to their chesed repertoire perhaps their most ambitious — and timely — project yet: Magenu, theBrooklyn children’s safety initiative.

As part of their multifaceted vision, they’ve brought the nationally renowned Safety Kid program — painstakingly refined for the frum community by Los Angeles mental health professional Mrs. Debbie Fox — to numerous Brooklyn yeshivos.

“Our goal is clear,” says Shani. “We want to empower every child inBrooklynto stay safe.”

Eli, a quintessential empathizer who himself had been in and out of half a dozen schools as a teenager and can intimately identify with those feelings of failure and hopelessness, says he gravitated toward the often emotionally wrenching work at Our Place, which is both “incredibly rewarding and incredibly painful. It’s gratifying to help guide troubled kids through their maze of pain to a healthier place. But we’ve also watched dozens of our boys and girls overdose — and even lose their lives. And whether in the middle of the night with barely a minyan, or in the middle of the day with crowds of hundreds, the pain of burying these teens is excruciating.”

 

 To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha. To sign up for a weekly subscription click here.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Weekly Struggle
Shoshana Friedman Cover text: promise big and deliver what we promise
Only Through You
Rabbi Moshe Grylak A response to last week’s letter, “Waiting in Passaic”
Are You Making a Kiddush Hashem?
Yonoson Rosenblum In communal affairs, “one bad apple…” often applies
Chance of a Lifetime
Eytan Kobre I identify with the urge to shout, “No, don’t do it!”
Work / Life Solutions with Bunim Laskin
Moe Mernick "You only get every day once"
Seeking a Truly Meaningful Blessing
Dovid Zaidman We want to get married. Help us want to date
Shivah Meditations
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Equivalence between two such polar opposites is puzzling
Magnet Moment
Jacob L. Freedman Everyone’s fighting a battle we know nothing about
Secrets and Surprises
Riki Goldstein Top-secret suits Eli Gerstner just fine
Blasts of Warmth
Riki Goldstein Keeping the chuppah music upbeat in low temperatures
Behind the Scenes
Faigy Peritzman The intrinsic value of each mitzvah
Good Vision
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Good or bad, nice or not? What you see is what you get
Day of Peace
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz On Shabbos we celebrate peace within and without