By: Fern Sidman
As far back as Biblical times, Judaism has always placed paramount importance on the mitzvah of providing support and succor to those who are Osek B’Toran (immersed in Torah learning). Among the sons of our patriarch Jacob, we learn of the partnership of Issacher and Zevulun. Issacher had devoted his life to plumbing the depths of Torah knowledge and Zevulun was a maritime merchant. Zevulun would provide financial sustenance to Yissacher and his family and in turn Yissacher would provide Zevulun with the spiritual guidance and strength based on his learning. The two benefitted tremendously from the partnership and as such each one grew even more dedicated in their service to Hashem.
This partnership still exists in these contemporary times in which we live and always has throughout the ages, thus producing giants in Torah knowledge who teach the community and strengthen our collective resolve to cling to the path of Hashem and Torah.
Recently, the Jewish Voice has the distinct privilege of sitting down with someone who can be aptly called a devoted shaliach of Hashem because of his total dedication to helping those who have committed themselves to learning Torah, day and night.
Mr. Daniel Dadoun is an unassuming man whose entire existence is representative of a paragon of chesed and he is a true baal tzedaka. Having arrived in Israel 23 years ago at age 16 from his native Morocco along with his brother who was 18 at time, Mr. Dadoun originally gained employment with such occupations as building stairs and working at a vegetable store. Mr. Dadoun’s brother originally attended the internationally renowned Technion University in Haifa.
Mr. Dadoun supported his brother throughout his years of study at the university. Subsequently, Mr. Dadoun’s brother moved on to learning at a yeshiva and made this his life’s mission. So impressed with his brother’s love of learning and his complete dedication to it, Mr. Dadoun provided the financial assistance required so that his brother could learn without the burden of providing his own sustenance.
It was then that Mr. Dadoun had the idea of starting a Kollel for other young men who also had a burning desired to learn Torah full time. Mr. Dadoun’s business ventures yielded tremendous success and as such he was in a position to provide the seed money for the Kollel and before long it attracted 10 members. It was then that Lev Echad was born and today thousands of men from the entire length and breadth of Israel are engaged in serious learning.
Throughout the years, Mr. Dadoun has given $70 million of his own money, (without any donations from outside sources) to the network of Kollelim and affiliated programs that have sprung up in Israel.
“I created Lev Echad to associate myself fully with the everyday life of families who have opted to live a spiritual life full of closeness in Hashem. Many kollel members live on meager stipends and they simply cannot assume all of their needs. For that, I created an organization which covers all these daily needs, and we accompany them step-by-step to provide for the needs of their families, “ Mr. Dadoun explained.
In over 26 cities across Israel, the Torah and Chesed Network known as the Lev Echad Foundation remains dedicated to the vision of growing and empowering the Torah and its scholars in every possible aspect of the entire course of life. As chairman of Lev Echad, Mr. Dadoun is exceptionally proud and tremendously grateful to Hashem that out of one small Kollel, a multitude of essential programs have been developed.
Among these programs are the unique Children & youth project, the tests in Yeshivos project, the Challenged youth project, the Meishivim project, the widespread network of Kollelim including the Retzufos kollels and the evening and Yom Shishi kollels. Lev Echad also provides fully funded weddings for the Avreichim as well as Bein Hazmanim yeshivas and free dental clinics for the Avreichim and their families.
Another program that has grown by leaps and bounds over the years is the Lev Echad sponsored Shidduchim Union in Eretz Yisroel. The Shidduchim Union was founded by Maran Rabbi Moshe Hillel Hirsch, Shlita, and is directed under his personal guidance. He specifically reached out to the management of Lev Echad to create systematic solutions for the shidduch crisis. Joining Rabbi Hirsch are Gedolei Yisroel led by Maran Sar HaTorah, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, shlita and Maran Rabbi Gershon Edelstein as well as all of the Roshei Yeshivos. They are augmented by the rabbinical leadership of the communities that wish to help all those who need a yeshuah.
After thoroughly interviewing dozens of matchmaking experts and parents, a complete and comprehensive solution has begun to be developed to meet the difficulties and challenges in the field of shidduchim to effectively implement the building of more and more Batim N’emanim B’Yisorel.
“We are very proud of our affiliation with Rabbi Hirsch, shlita, “ said Mr. Dadoun. Formerly of Baltimore, Rabbi Hirsch was the rabbi of the Slabodka yeshiva and is the head of all Rosh Kollelim in the Lev Echad network. He was also a student of HaRav Aharon Kotler.
Mr. Dadoun adds, “The shidduchim program is very important because we created a one-of-a-kind data base filled with information on prospective partners. We give them what they need and what they want in terms of the proper shidduch. The matchmaker thoroughly checks out compatibility and for girls, we offer the girls a comprehensive perspective of boys available.”
In terms of the Kollel network, Mr. Dadoun explains that support to Avreichim is distributed on a merit basis and is predicated on the amount of learning they engage in and the success rate that they have.
“For Kollel A, we distribute 2000 shekelim a month to these young men. Kollel B is for very serious and dedicated learners and as such we distribute 3500 shekelim a month. In Kollel C which is geared for men who literally learn day and night and shteig away in their studies while taking rigorous exams to gauge how much they are learning distributes 4000 shekalim a month. Basically in Kollel C, everything is for free. We pay for entire weddings, bar mitzvos, and we even give out interest free loans to those who need them, “ said Mr. Dadoun.
He added that when a new baby arrives in the home of a Kollel couple, they receive 5000 shekalim for baby expenses and if they have a boy they receive 10,000 for the bris milah.
In 2016, Mr. Dadoun says that the projects had seen exponential growth and as a result of this success, many more chesed programs began to emerge that met the needs of the communities they serve. From 2016 through 2020, 500 free weddings were sponsored by Lev Echad.
“If Avereichim and their growing families are in need of dental care, Lev Echad has six free dental clinics for them. We try to anticipate the needs of families who are living on limited incomes to help them with basic expenses that the government does not subsidize, “ said Dadoun.
Because these programs are taking very seriously by Lev Echad and the Avreichim, Mr. Dadoun says that the way that the young men of the kollel are tested for their Torah knowledge and degree of success is through books that are given to each man. In these books, they are to record what they learned in specific detail for each zman.
Additionally, Dadoun says, “Each man learning in Kollel and dedicating his life to Hashem’s Torah should feel like a king in their own homes. For that reason, on such holidays as Rosh HaShana we buy new clothes for each man’s wife and on Pesach, which can be a very expensive holiday, we pay for all expenses for the Yom Tov and that means new clothing, food, expenses for chol hamoed, etc.”
Moreover, Dadoun says that Lev Echad helps find gainful employment for the wives of kollel men. “We give kollel wives a job in textiles; making clothes from home. We also provide them with free courses in computer programming and they generally work two to three days a week or about 32 hours. As for textiles, we wanted to make sure that each wife can operate a sewing machine since that is essential to a growing family.”
As referenced to earlier in this article, the Lev Echad masmidim program at the yeshivos offers free weddings for the best students who pass their exams with flying colors. “We want our dedicated avreichim to know that once they find the right shidduch and get engaged they will not have to be concerned with expenses. We want them to continue to devote themselves in their entirety to their learning schedules, “ said Mr. Dadoun.
The Retezufot kollel program meets every day from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm and the night kollel for working men has attracted over 600 people who learn Daf Yomi each night from 8:30 to 10:00 pm. There is also a Yom Shishi kollel that begins learning from 8 am until 12 noon.
“We are very excited about the Lev Echad Yom Shishi kollel. For three years, our kollel members have learned meschectas niddah, Shabbat and ezrayim, “ said Mr. Dadoun. He added: “There are not enough experts in these fields. They are touchy subjects but we had 40 young men learning for three years and they received a certificate from the Beit Din in Israel.”
Lev Echad also operates a Bein HaZmanim program where men can learn when yeshivas take a break and earn money at the same time.
“Currently, we are trying to raise necessary funds for over 21 kollelim. We are now opening the doors to those who want to partake of the crucially important mitzvah of aiding those who have immersed themselves in Torah as well as for future generations of men who will do the same. Giving donations to Lev Echad will ensure that all of our essential programs can succeed as well as substantially increase in size and strength, “ said Dadoun.
For those interested in participating in the growth of Lev Echad and Torah learning throughout Israel, please contact Mr. Dadoun at: 347-445-1545.