While we are all struggling in various ways with the isolation and stress induced by the epidemic, the struggles are far more difficult for many of our needy neighbors.
This year, PCS has been partnering on a UJA Open Tent grant, together with Mosholu Montefiore Community Center (MMCC) in the Bronx, to provide Jewish gateways for Jews of color, LGBTQ and interfaith families in Westchester.
Although our grant-related activities are in Westchester, I want to support our partners at MMCC and the people they serve. Imagine sharing a small apartment among three families and struggling to keep afloat from day to day. Many live in dire circumstances even at the best of times. How much more those families are struggling now, when the inequities of our society have been thrown into sharp relief.
This week was my birthday and I decided to do a fundraiser for the MMCC food pantry. Please join in! To donate, go to:
IMPORTANT: YOU MUST FILL IN THE "IN HONOR OF" SECTION of the form with "For food pantry"! (If you forget, you can respond and tell them this when they send your donation acknowledgement). You can also call 718-882-4000, ext. 0 and say you would like to donate for the food pantry, or mail a check to MMCC (memo line: food pantry) and send to: MMCC, 3450 Dekalb Ave., Bronx, NY 10467.
Another organization on the front lines of feeding the hungry right now in New York City is a favorite of mine: Masbia. Founded by a really cool Hassid, Alexander Rappaport, they normally have soup kitchens (that are really like nice restaurants) to feed thousands of needy New Yorkers daily. They are now distributing groceries and food to the needy and packages of healthy foods to the quarantined.
Don't forget our local neighbors in Westchester. We can help right here by donating to the Westchester Food Bank.
Tzedakah is one of the greatest Jewish mitzvot, and there is no time like now to help those in need. Tzedakah saves lives. It may even alleviate our own anxiety and stress for a bit when we do something to help others.
Let me know in the comments if you are finding ways to do extra mitzvot now!
Take Heart! We are engaged in a mitzvah.
Shabbat Shalom! I don't have a lot of time to write before Shabbat, but I want to let you know that I'm thinking of everyone in our community. Many are concerned for their or a loved one's health, some are having to postpone long-awaited simchas, others of us are just stressed out by the news from hour to hour.
By now I hope you have seen the email from our president, Leyla Naksbendi, about our current building closing. If not take a look wherever those emails hide in your email folders! (There is also some info on the home page of this website).
Here are a few more words of encouragement from me personally:
In Israel, they talk about the challenges of the day as the "Matzav," the situation. I hope we can take heart from time to time by reframing our "matzav." We can consider that we are all participating in a huge mitzvah--and we are doing it with the whole community. We are doing the primary mitzvah in the Torah: Pikuach Nefesh, saving lives. For that, the Torah tells us to put aside just about any other mitzah.
By giving everyone more space and less contact for a while, by washing our hands frequently and well with soap, we are helping many people stay healthy and we are "moving the curve" of a growing epidemic. As a medical professional in my family told me, don't think worst case scenarios. Think that we are actively doing what needs to be done to keep our medical resources from becoming overwhelmed. (And she really emphasized the handwashing!)
That said, it can be isolating and sad to not have contact with one another regularly. We can get overwhelmed with the news and updates. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I'm going to try to stay connected with you! It may take me a while to get up to speed on some of this, but how about joining me for some Shabbat moments together, some time to have peace and to decompress from the news?
If you want to greet Shabbat with me tonight (Friday, March 13), I'll be livestreaming on Facebook (short, not a full service) at 6:30 Friday evening:
You can also meet me on Zoom for Torah study at 11am on Saturday, March 14.
Use the link below (fuller information in the email from Leyla):
Finally, if you just need to talk, you can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call my home office from the number in the email. We also have a social worker available to give us emotional support, and her contact info. is in the email from Leyla. I may not be in the office, but I am "in" and here for you. Shabbat Shalom and hope to see you online!
Rabbi Julie Hilton Danan shares her thoughts (and some original photos) and invites your comments.