The Era: the early 1950's. The chuppah uniting a young Lubavitcher bride and groom was taking place outside of 770 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY. The Lubavitcher Rebbe happened to be in his office, as he was during so many chuppahs. But this time was different. The Rebbe looked up from his work suddenly and asked his secretary, Rabbi Leibel Groner, "Why don't I hear any musicians playing at the wedding outside?" Rabbi Groner replied, "Both the bride and groom come from especially poor families. They probably couldn't afford to hire musicians." Upon hearing this, the Rebbe told Rabbi Groner in an urgent voice, "Quickly! Run out and hire a band for these people, and send me the bill. But you must not reveal to anyone the source of the money!"
- Heard from Rabbi Leibel Groner.
As Brooklyn's Jewish population has seen monumental growth since the 1950's, the numbers of needy brides and grooms have grown as well.
Enter, Mrs. Devorah Benjamin.
In 1993, Devorah took it upon herself to personally assist young people, without parents or without money, in getting married. At that time, she established Keren Simchas Chosson V'Kallah (KSCVK), the Fund to Bring Joy to the Groom and Bride. Her mission: to go beyond a cookie-cutter approach and help each couple according to their own unique situation, from the first date through the last Mazel Tov at the end of the wedding. KSCVK enables couples to get married with dignity and, insofar as possible, makes their wedding dreams come true.
KSCVK's help is wide-ranging. One young groom-to-be had lost his father when he was seven years old. His mother is from Russia. Devorah bought him a new shirt and gave him $50 to spend on his first date. Another bride, a baalas teshuvah (returnee to Jewish observance), came from an anti-religious family. Devorah not only helped arrange and pay for the wedding, but held the bride's hand throughout the ceremony, supporting her in the face of her spiteful parents. In a third case, the bride's father was disabled and her brother was battling a life-threatening illness. The family's monetary and emotional resources were almost entirely sapped. "There are no words to describe what Devorah did for us," asserted the bride's mother with tears in her eyes. "That woman is a tzadekes (saint) - No, she's beyond a tzadekes!"
During the first year of KSCVK's operation, Devorah, with the able support of her husband Shmuel, helped 15 couples at a cost of $30,000. This past year KSCVK aided literally hundreds of couples, with a budget of over $700,000. Devorah has forged relationships with wedding halls, caterers, photographers, and every other imaginable supplier of the needs of a bride and groom. For the neediest cases, these businesses give her a generous discount. At Machon Chana, the Crown Heights seminary for newly Chassidic women, no one calls Devorah; when a girl becomes engaged, Devorah calls the bride to offer her help. Even if they don't need money, Devorah dispenses priceless advice on how and where to find the best of everything for the wedding. Money is collected door-to-door, often in dollar bills and coins. Devorah once paid a caterer $640 in quarters; she once bought clothing for a young man with $100 in pennies. Every donation, large or small, is treasured at KSCVK.
Through your participation in our events, you become a partner in KSCVK's vital work of fostering the growth of beautiful, joyous Jewish couples and families. You become a partner with Devorah Benjamin in her indispensable work as all by herself she moves mountains, a single stone at a time.