How would she collect the money? She had no idea how to set up an online fundraising page
“Tammy? Is that you?”
As she heard Devoiry’s voice on the other end, Tammy sank back onto her couch in relief. This was the first time her friend had answered her phone in days.
“Yes, it’s me. How are you? You had me really worried.”
There was a short pause. “I’m okay.”
Tammy waited, but nothing else was forthcoming. Exasperated, she said, “Hello? You’re being threatened by a murderous mobster and all you can say is ‘I’m okay’? Some updates, please?”
Devoiry let out a heavy breath. “My husband managed to borrow 30,000 from gemachim.”
Devoiry gave a short laugh. “Yeah, they’re satisfied for now. At least for the next week or so. But due dates come fast, and Avi’s already maxed out his gemach loans.”
Tammy rubbed her finger along her worn couch arm. “I wish…” she began, but Devoiry continued speaking.
“I’ve sent my kids away.”
“Huh?” Tammy sat up. “Where?”
“I don’t want to say. In case…”
In case someone was listening in. Tammy shuddered, picturing the level of fear Devoiry was experiencing if she’d felt it necessary to take this drastic step.
“We’re going to get you out of this,” she said firmly. “We’ll raise the money, somehow.”
“Right,” Devoiry said sarcastically. “I can just see the headlines on the tzedakah campaign. She rented a storefront that was more than she could afford, and now she needs to pay back the loan. Klal Yisrael, let’s open our hearts and help this Yid! That’ll really tug on the heartstrings, no?”
Tammy wished she could erase the bitterness from her friend’s voice. “Devoiry,” she said. “Just watch. It’s going to happen.”
Tonight’s Cookie Thursday had drawn quite a crowd, but Tammy was having trouble getting into the spirit.
Her eyes settled on ZeeZee, who hadn’t stopped talking all night. She frowned, wondering: the past few days, ever since she’d discovered Devoiry’s identity, ZeeZee had been subdued and distracted. Had she — Tammy’s heart gave a leap — spoken to her parents? Was it possible they’d agreed to give Devoiry the money she needed?
Tammy gave herself a mental shake. While she couldn’t claim to be familiar with the habits of the rich, she imagined they didn’t just donate $150,000 at the drop of a hat.
Still, when ZeeZee lingered after the others had left, Tammy couldn’t help but get her hopes up that she had good news to share.
“I need to speak to you about my amazing idea,” ZeeZee began, as she grabbed the broom and began to sweep the living room. “Here’s how we’re going the help Devoiry — crowdfunding!”
“Um, what do you mean by that?”
ZeeZee’s eyes were sparkling. “I mean we’re gonna set up a page on one of those online campaign sites. Y’know, the ones that’re always asking people for money to help some yasom or almanah? What’s it called, CauseMatch or something?”
Tammy thought about Devoiry’s sardonic description earlier today of a tzedakah campaign on her behalf and said gently, “Do you really think you’ll find that many people interested in giving?”
“Are you kidding?” ZeeZee twirled the broomstick in the air. “Of course everyone will want to give! We’ll have the money in no time!”
Tammy couldn’t help but smile; it was a real gift, to be blessed with such abundant confidence.
“Besides,” ZeeZee continued. “We’re gonna do it legit. Double your donation and everything. I’m gonna ask my dad if he’s willing to match.”
“D’you think he’d agree?”
ZeeZee tossed her ponytail over her shoulder. “For sure. My father agrees to everything I ask. I’m his baby, you know.”
Tammy laughed aloud, as she felt herself being drawn into ZeeZee’s infectious optimism. With someone as energetic and enthusiastic as ZeeZee on board, maybe this really could work! She pictured the campaign going live, the donations pouring in from around the world…
Around the world. She blinked back into reality.
“Uh, ZeeZee, you can’t just go ahead and start a tzedakah campaign for someone without her permission.”
ZeeZee narrowed her eyes. “Well, we’re not gonna, like, use her name or anything.”
Tammy shook her head. “It’s still an invasion of privacy. How would you feel if you saw your personal story broadcast all over the world, even without using your name?”
“Mmm. Cringey. I see what you mean.”
Tammy was glad she understood.
ZeeZee frowned into space for a minute. “ ’Kay, what if we keep it small? Like, instead of sending it out all over the Internet, we just ask a few people who we think would be interested in helping?”
Tammy slowly nodded. “Yes, that sounds more like it.” If ZeeZee asked a few of her parents’ rich friends, maybe they really could solve this problem quickly and discreetly. Her spirits began to lift. “But we still can’t do anything without getting Devoiry’s approval.”
“Fine, so call her right now and get her approval.” ZeeZee skipped over to the garbage can and emptied the dustpan into it. “As soon as you get the okay, I’m ready to start.”
As she walked back to the seminary, ZeeZee started composing a speech in her mind of what she’d say to the people she reached out to and how she’d cajole them into giving the money they needed (“um, $18 is nice, but, you know, if we don’t raise $150,000 soon, she could be dead tomorrow. How about one-eighty? Or even better, eighteen hundred?”).
She was already grinning as she pictured handing Mrs. Edelman a check for 500,000 shekels to give to her daughter. But then she stopped. How would she collect the money? She had no idea how to set up an online fundraising page.
ZeeZee turned onto the block of her dorm, thinking furiously. She needed to find someone who knew how to do techy things like that. Someone willing to help her for free. As she walked up the steps to the front door, she suddenly stopped in her tracks.
She knew the perfect person to do this. Someone who was a computer programmer and was close enough to the Edelman family that she’d feel it an honor to help. But, OMG, ZeeZee so didn’t want to ask her.
ZeeZee stood by the entrance to the building for a full minute, wavering. Maybe there was someone else?
She sighed. Just call her. This isn’t about you.
Gritting her teeth, she pulled out her phone and dialed her sister Gitty.
“ZeeZee! How are you?”
Considering that this was probably the first time ZeeZee had called her all year, she wasn’t surprised to hear the note of shock in her sister’s voice.
“Baruch Hashem, good.” Might as well start out friendly. “It was so cute seeing Binny’s upsheren the other night. You should have loads of nachas.”
There was a slight hesitation in Gitty’s voice as she answered, “Thanks. It was really nice of you to join.”
Okay, this was getting awkwardly formal. It was time to cut to the chase.
“Listen, Gitty, I need your help with something. How do you set up an online crowdfunding page?”
“Trying to raise money for your summer vacation?”
ZeeZee rolled her eyes. “Ha, ha.” Why did Gitty think she was so shallow? “It’s actually to help someone I know who needs money badly.”
Gitty’s voice chilled decidedly. “ZeeZee, it’s nice of you to want to help, but this sounds like something that should be left to adults.”
ZeeZee dug her fingernails into her palm. “Thanks for the advice, but I’ve already discussed this with an adult. And she thinks it’s a great idea. We’re just waiting to get approval from the — um — party in need of help.”
“Uh huh. And who is this adult? One of those nutsos that you love going to for Shabbos?”
ZeeZee was tempted to hang up the phone on the spot. Instead, she took a deep, steadying breath and forced herself to say calmly, “No. Actually, the adult is one of my teachers. And the person who needs help is someone you know. But if you’d rather stay away from anything your nutso sister does, I’ll find someone else to help.”
Gitty was silent for a moment. “Someone I know? Is it — it’s not Mrs. Edelman, is it?”
“I can’t say,” ZeeZee said quickly.
“I see.” Gitty took a breath. “I can’t believe I’m actually agreeing to get involved in one of your harebrained schemes, but yes, I’ll set up the online site for you.”
to be continued…
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 769)
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