Jayne Karten of Denville isn’t sure what she would have done if Maurice Korish and Adam Hollander hadn’t shown up when they did. The 17-year-old creators of Deliver Together have been bringing her groceries to her home since just after the quarantine started.
“These boys were like a gift from God,” she told NJJN in a telephone interview. “My husband and I are very high risk for this coronavirus, and they came at the perfect time, and they have gone above and beyond anything I ever expected.”
Now Korish and Hollander, juniors at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, are bringing the service to the broader community.
“The community is always helping us at school, so we just figured, how about now we go and return the favor?” Korish said. “A lot of us are not doing a lot at home now in quarantine. Rather than staring at a screen all day, we figured we’d take some initiative.”
They developed the website, delivertogether.org, by themselves, from coding to algorithm to design, using the STEM skills they learned in programming and security classes in school. Both volunteers and clients register and are then paired based on location. To date, approximately 30 volunteers and 15 clients have registered. The service is free, and Deliver Together provides all volunteers with masks and gloves.
It’s not so different from services many synagogues and other Jewish institutions have been offering through chesed committees when the quarantine began. One major difference, however, is that Deliver Together doesn’t require as much manpower. “It’s totally automated,” said Hollander. The algorithm manages the matches, and the service is accessible beyond an individual synagogue or organization.
They started at their own synagogue, Mount Freedom Jewish Center in Randolph, where Karten is also a member. She was their first customer. The service was launched shortly before Passover, the website on April 13.
Korish is a Diller Teen Fellow, a selective Jewish identity and leadership development program for high school students that is sponsored by Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ and the Helen Diller Family Foundation. The teenagers, both of Randolph, have tapped into the Diller Teen network to recruit volunteers, and Rabbi Scott Kalmikoff, the lead educator of Diller Teen Fellows, is helping them apply for a grant to cover the cost of supplies for volunteers.
In the meantime, one of their volunteer recruits, Diller Teen alumni Jonah Altmann of Westfield, 17, a junior at Golda Och Academy in West Orange, wasted no words when asked why he wanted to volunteer. “Because I can.”
For more information, or to sign up as a client or volunteer, visit the Deliver Together website at delivertogether.org.