The Aleph Institute: An Overview of Unique Services to the Community
The Aleph Institute is a national, not-for-profit 501(c)(3), publicly-supported charitable institution founded by Rabbi Sholom D. Lipskar under the direction of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson O.B.M. For over thirty years, Aleph has been serving society by: (1) providing critical social services to families in crisis; (2) addressing the pressing religious, educational, humanitarian and advocacy needs of individuals in the military and institutional environments; and (3)implementing solutions to significant issues relating to our criminal justice system, with an emphasis on families, faith-based rehabilitation and preventive ethics education.
In furtherance of that goal, Aleph has created and implemented a host of programs over the past twenty-four years that provide alternatives to incarceration, rehabilitate inmates, counsel and assist their families, and provide moral and ethical educational programs inculcating universal truths and concepts common to all of humanity.
Aleph regularly provides professional services to nearly 4,000 men and women in federal and state prisons across the country and their approximately 25,000 spouses, children and parents left behind. Aleph’s Center for Halacha and American Law (CHAL) develops unique educational materials on Torah ethics and values, implements them in classroom curriculums and distributes them to schools and to the general public.
Aleph attempts to assist all, regardless of their religious observance, affiliation, background or lack of one. Aleph has also developed educational programs for non-Jews, based on the Seven Noahide Laws (universal code of ethics and morality) that are applicable to all of humankind, and provides social services to all who reach out to us, regardless of race, creed, sex, color or religion.
“Operation Enduring Traditions” Programs for the Military:
Jews in the military face unique challenges in maintaining their Jewishness. Aleph supports and assists thousands of Jewish men and women serving this great nation in the U.S. Armed Forces with Jewish books, materials, and moral and spiritual support. Away from home and community, Jews in uniform are often challenged by not having the resources available to study about and observe Torah and Mitzvot. A connection with their Jewish observances, traditions and prayers offers them a sense of family and community.
As part of our own “Operation Enduring Traditions,” Aleph has been distributing thousands of packages to soldiers for every Jewish holiday including Purim, Passover, High Holidays and Chanukah. These packages are sent to over 100 Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine bases here in the United States and to personnel stationed all over the world. We have also shipped packages to Navy ships in the Arabian Sea. Besides Holiday supplies, Aleph also shipped over 2,000 soft-cover pocket-sized Hebrew/English Psalm books and specially camouflaged Chumashim (Torah Bibles) along with other religious books for military personnel to carry with them and turn to for prayer and security at all times.
Aleph is a source of HOPE and SUPPORT for our Jewish brothers and sisters. We do this through our continuous spiritual and rehabilitative activities throughout the year. YOU can be the one to take care of their vital spiritual and physical needs, and help them EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.
Spark of Light Prison Programs:
Most people are not aware of the plight of the five thousand Jews in prisons all across America today. The prison system makes it very difficult to maintain one’s sanity and even more difficult to observe one’s religion properly. Even in the most accommodating prisons it is not simple to live as a Jew. Prisons generally tend to dehumanize inmates and destroy the family unit, as well as any sense of self worth. Our goal is not to free the inmate from prison physically, but to free him or her spiritually. It is now a well-accepted fact that faith-based programming has a very strong effect on the rehabilitation prospects of those who are incarcerated. We help these men and women maintain their sanity and give them a chance at reintegrating into society and once again becoming productive, law-abiding citizens. We help them observe the Jewish holidays and assist them with their daily Jewish practices, which is a great challenge especially in such isolated and anti-Semitic environments where Jews are (thank G-d) a very small minority. We also provide the necessary books, food items and materials for each and every holiday as well as the books and materials needed for their daily Jewish practices.
Aleph F.E.E.L.S. Family Programs:
The negative effects of incarceration on our society go beyond the prison walls. Almost all of those that are incarcerated have spouses, children, parents and even grandchildren that are deeply and significantly affected as well. Aleph attends to the needs of these tens of thousands of family members, who are faced with daily challenges due to no fault of their own—but only because of the mistakes of a loved one. We provide unique family programs, assistance and counseling. Aleph sponsors support groups that bring together the spouses of inmates allowing them to compare and discuss their physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Professional counselors work with inmates and their families to strengthen and maintain family bonds throughout the crisis of incarceration and to aid in the readjustments required by incarceration of loved ones.