It’s Far Reaching Work Has Big Names Lining Up for Amudim’s Unite to Heal Fundraiser
By: Sandy Eller
With an all star line-up of over 100 rabbonim, mental health professionals, organization heads, entertainers, shadchanim, athletes and other well known voices, Amudim’s 36 hour Unite to Heal fundraiser promises to be a blockbuster event. But the staggering number of individuals who have agreed to take part in the annual fundraiser that gives Amudim the ability to continue answering calls for help from those in crisis presents a question in and of itself – what is it exactly about Amudim that has so many prominent individuals eager to participate in this marathon event?
Amudim CEO and director Zvi Gluck readily admits that it wasn’t all that long ago that there were few in the Jewish world who were willing to discuss mental health and the sensitive issues of abuse and addiction. But after a core group of individuals agreed that the time had come to face problems in the Jewish community that had previously been discreetly ignored, Amudim was created to address those needs and the tide began to turn, albeit very, very slowly. Since that time Amudim has run hundreds of awareness events, helped more than 8,500 clients and opened multiple offices in the United States as well as one in Israel, steadily chipping away at the stigmas that have prevented so many from seeking help in a multitude of ways. Fast forward six years and Amudim has become a household name and the go to address for organizations, institutions and individuals dealing with difficult cases, logging upwards of 83,500 calls for help this year alone, the many facets of the pandemic sparking an unprecedented mental health crisis.
Pulling together an event of this magnitude with so many big names would have been literally impossible for anyone other than Amudim, observed Yummy Schachter, producer of Unite to Heal.
“People were willing to jump on board because they understand and appreciate that Amudim is an essential organization,” observed Schachter. “Seeing that dozens of personalities were willing to drop everything and participate in Unite to Heal speaks volumes about the importance of this organization and the discussions and conversations about sensitive issues that still need to be happening and aren’t yet.”
The fact that over 100 well known people are lending their voices to the 36 segment-36 hour livestream event should be an eye opener, one that will encourage even more people to reach out for help, noted Schachter.
“Every community needs and is using Amudim’s services and while that reality may not have been discussed openly in the past, it shouldn’t be treated as a secret anymore,” said Schachter.
Having run Amudim’s social media for the past two years, Humans of Judaism founder Nikki Schreiber has seen firsthand that the Jewish community has come to terms with the painful reality that it isn’t immune to contemporary threats that destroy lives.
“When we first started it was definitely more of a tiptoe but now we have the ability to work with greater strength in our messaging, education and language,” explained Schreiber. “Amudim’s services are a feather in our communal cap and the community’s acceptance and support are the key to its success. It has been rewarding to see that people are comfortable being part of this event as they publicly and proudly support Amudim.”
“Amudim deals with things that other people in society like to sweep under the rug, many of which are now being amplified by the pandemic,” added American Israel tech blogger, vlogger and speaker Hillel Fuld. “Now more than ever, it is clear that it has never been more important to destigmatize these issues.”
Recorded video messages supporting Amudim and its work feature multiple well known faces in the global Jewish community issuing personal pleas for support, including Howard Tzvi Friedman, chairman of the Orthodox Union’s board of directors, Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Senter, Rosh Hayeshiva of Yeshiva Aderes Hatorah and Rabbi Shlomo Soroka, director of Agudath Israel of America of Illinois, who observed that Amudim’s institutional knowledge, connections and drive have given it the ability to accomplish on behalf of its clients, operating in areas that are far from typical.
“We had this ad campaign that said when Klal Yisroel needs something they called Agudah, but when Agudah needs something, I’ll tell you, we call Amudim,” said Rabbi Soroka. “So if you’ve been helped by our office, in all probability you’ve been helped by Amudim and you don’t even know it, whether you live in New York, California, Chicago or anywhere in between.”
Having spent years spreading positive messages about the Jewish community, Jew in the City founder Allison Josephs lauded Amudim for going all out for those who are dealing with difficult struggles in her video message.
“It is an incredible kiddush Hashem to talk about the problems in our community and face them and that’s exactly what Amudim does – they are personally helping our organization and helping Jews all over the world,” said Josephs.
While Amudim typically flies below the radar, community activist Chaskel Bennett praised Gluck and his staff for establishing the organization as a pivotal force that steps up for anyone in need, a reality that has been of critical importance during the pandemic.
“Our sages teach us if you save one person you save an entire world,” said Politz Hebrew Academy principal Bessie Katz. “Thank you Amudim for saving so many people and recreating so many worlds.”
Much of the fanfare regarding Unite to Heal has focused on the many big names who will be appearing during the star-studded program, but in truth, its most noteworthy components lie in a completely different direction, observed Gluck.
“It is inspiring to see so many doing their part to support Amudim, not only because we need the help but also because this is a tremendous source of chizuk for those in need,” said Gluck. “When they see a turnout like this and the caliber of personalities who are advocating on their behalf, it is proof positive that stigmas are being broken, that people understand what they are going through and that the community at large is stepping up to the plate for them in any way it can.”
*you can see more information about this ground breaking event by going to www.unitetoheal.com