Our doors and synagogues may be shuttered, but our hearts are open to each other. Our communities are reaching out to their residents in caring and creative ways, more and more each day as the coronavirus crisis intensifies. Our shul rabbis, together through their leadership, or individually as the spiritual leaders of their congregations, issue daily reports to their congregants, offering words of comfort, providing updated halachic considerations and listing suggestions to ease daily life. Many shuls are organizing chizuk minyanim online, usually followed by words from the rav. The RCBC has joined the OU and YU in providing evening shiurim on Zoom by Torah scholars in our communities and across the nation and even the world.
Kabbalat Shabbat services for children and adults have been offered for the past two Shabbatot and the Birkat HaChodesh tefillah was recited prior to the onset of last Shabbat, which was led by musical baalei tefillah. Festive Havdalah services followed by community singing were also arranged by several batei knessiot to help extend the spirit of Shabbat.
Over the past two weeks, community rabbis have been offering seminars and workshops such as, “Preparing for Pesach” and “Kashering for Pesach,” as well as supplemental guides to kosher for Passover products and take-out food availability. These accommodations are taking into consideration that there is a significant segment of our population that has never prepared Pesach at home before this year.
Our communities have also “stepped up to the plate” by providing daily physical assistance to their citizens. There are many ongoing chesed projects, and the number is multiplying daily. The Jewish Center of Teaneck has arranged a chesed group which calls the elderly each day and goes shopping for them when needed. Congregation Beth Aaron has set up a buddy system whereby families that are more mobile are paired with those more challenged, to help out with necessary activities and more importantly to provide company and compassion.
In neighboring Passaic County, the bikur cholim of Passaic-Clifton, together with the GIVE’s Chesed Program, is offering to coordinate and deliver essential groceries to those members of the community who have been advised not to go shopping themselves. All groceries will be purchased at Kosher Konnection or Seasons. To avail yourself of this service go to https://tinyurl.com/reff7wg or call Chani Wallach Krieger at 973-718-0229 or Raquel Haupt at 917-816-1868.
Tomchei Shabbos of Bergen County is organizing a virtual matzah collection with ShopRite of Paramus. When you check out at ShopRite, having purchased the requisite amount of groceries, write the words Tomchei Shabbos on your coupon and bring it to the courtesy desk along with your receipt for proof of eligibility. ShopRite will then deliver the matzah directly to Tomchei Shabbos free of charge. Questions can be directed to [email protected] county.org.
Thanks to Daniel Rothner and his Areyvut organization, who provided meals to health care workers on the front lines at Holy Name Medical Center. At the initiation of Zev Weisinger and in partnership with the dynamic Deborah Ross, four initial meals for 60 health workers at HNH were provided by four kosher restaurants in the area. To keep the momentum going and to show continuing support for the courage and skills of these health care workers, the community is asked to participate by making a donation through www.areyvut.org/donate. In the dropbox menu select “other” and put in CommUNITY.
Teaneck Shuls is also listing chesed opportunities. “Ayo” Oppenheimer posted a kind offer of free yoga and meditation to “help provide calm in the midst of chaos.” He provides links to videos in his “Beat Corona Series,” which includes guided meditation and breathwork as well as physical yoga and stretch practices. He can be contacted at [email protected]
Stay tuned for more chesed offerings and opportunities in the coming weeks.