Several local groups, undaunted by the Covid-19 restrictions, continue to feed those in need, including individuals forced to quarantine, families experiencing food instability, or those who have lost jobs or incomes as a result of the pandemic.
More than 30 families volunteered over the course of the afternoon on Tuesday, March 24, to pack hundreds of boxes filled with Passover food in the parking lot of Congregation Ohr Torah in West Orange. Following the guidelines of the CDC and in consultation with a local physician, volunteers signed up in advance so no more than 10 people were present at a time. Other safety precautions included social distancing, thorough hand and face washing, and donning of masks, gloves, and disposable ponchos to cover clothing.
The packing was organized by the Jewish Relief Agency (JRA), a monthly program founded by the Rabbinical College of America where volunteers pack and deliver boxes of food to 350 recipients throughout the state.
Coordinator Michael Diamond, an executive board member at Ohr Torah, said the regular JRA recipients are “most at-risk” during the pandemic. “We think that even doing something as small as lending our parking lot and some volunteers would go a long way during this extremely difficult time,” he said.
The kosher for Passover foods in the boxes included matzah, grape juice, jars of gefilte fish, nuts, tea, jam, and more.
Rabbi Moishe Gurevitz, director of JRA, said his commitment is unwavering. “With constant guidance from medical professionals, we need to look for ways to help those in their time of need; otherwise, giving up now is giving up on hundreds of people,” he wrote to NJJN in an email. JRA also initiated a Passover campaign to help those experiencing financial instability as a result of the pandemic. To donate visit jrametrowest.com/donate.
Another Passover food drive was conducted by a Chesed WhatsApp group comprised of West Orange and Livingston residents. More than $20,000 was raised and some of the money is covering the cost of 40 “Passover to Go” boxes, which include seder food plus lunches and dinners for the entire holiday, prepared by Reuben’s Glatt Spot in West Orange. All funds raised will continue to help local families financially impacted by the virus. For more information, contact Larry Rein, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Moshe Glick, email@example.com.
The number of families helped by the Westfield Fun Club is “growing daily,” according to an email from organizers Jenny Tananbaum and Alissa Berger. The Fun Club, a program at Temple Emanu-El that assists refugee families, has expanded their services to include a twice-weekly home delivery of food and other essential items. The number of families aided by the Fun Club has doubled from 15 to 30.
“The coronavirus crisis has created an ever-worsening situation for our food insecure families,” according to the email.
The group is collecting non-perishable food, produce, diapers, halal and non-halal meat and poultry, laundry detergent, razors, and more. For information on where to donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.