Diskin, a unique conglomerate of organizations designed to help orphans and children in distress, has been operating in Jerusalem for well over a century.
Established in 1880 by Rabbi Yehoshua Leib Diskin, one of the Jewish people's leading luminaries at the time. At the peak of his career, Rabbi Diskin left a prestigious rabbinical position and immigrated to the Holy Land. When he arrived he found a large, idealistic community living under near-impossible conditions. Many families had been destroyed by persecution and disease, and Rabbi Diskin encountered countless young orphans and unfortunate youths whose physical, emotional and spiritual well-being were at greatly risk.
Recognizing the urgency of their plight, Rabbi Diskin began gathering these needy children, one by one, into his humble home. In time, as their numbers grew, he established the "Great Institution for Orphans," which came to be known as the Diskin Orphanage of Jerusalem, or simply Diskin.
Until his final days Rabbi Diskin labored unceasingly to help these unfortunate youths, doing anything that was necessary to provide them with a home and with all their basic needs.
With Rabbi Diskin's passing, in 5658 (1898), his lifework was taken up by his only son, Rabbi Yitzchak Yerucham Diskin. It was Rabbi Yitzchak Yerucham who built the magnificent Diskin Orphanage campus – the physical incarnation of the verse, "The world is built with kindness." The campus overlooks the entrance to Jerusalem. Rabbi Yitzchak Yerucham headed Diskin together with his father's beloved student Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. For fifty years Rabbi Sonnenfeld worked day and night for the sake of the orphans and their families. These lofty personalities, who shaped the character of Diskin, established its path of chessed that continues to this day.
Since then Diskin has undergone many changes and modifications, adapting itself to meet the new challenges and needs of our ever-changing times. If in the past the primary purpose of an orphanage was to provide a home for children who had been left without parental care, today it employs pedagogical and therapeutic counseling in order to enable children in dysfunctional homes to maintain as normal an existence as possible given their difficult circumstances.
Accordingly, Diskin has designed the various projects of its humanitarian network with the goals of enabling the child and his family to live together, and providing the family with physical, financial and moral support, while at the same time enabling them to maintain their sense of human dignity.
The Diskin staff does its best to develop a close, trusting relationship with each family, giving both the parents and the children the feeling that they have a friend on whom they can rely, not just a welfare system on which they are dependent.
The board of governors provides Diskin with ongoing and responsible guidance in all its activities. Rabbi Meir Bransdorfer, zt"l, was one of its distinguished members. Current members serving on the board of governors include: Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinksy, Rabbi Meir Zilberstein, Rabbi Nosson Lifshitz, Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Meiselish, Rabbi Ben Zion Felman, Rabbi Moshe Kahn, Rabbi Moshe Shaul Klein, Rabbi Nachum Rothstein and Rabbi Chizkiyahu Yosef Shreiber. All these men are community leaders, rabbis and public figures with a great deal of experience in education and chessed.