“We are proud to do our small part in making the lives of those affected a little better during a difficult time”
rabbi dovid zerkin
bad things happen. for those who embrace this reality, preparedness is valued. a commitment to neighbor’s welfare requires an anticipation of needs. this mindset is not something that happens overnight. it is not something that is some initiative instituted by a politician or government administrator. the mindset comes from thousands of year of tradition which include the tales abraham’s generosity and the exodus story. the torah drills into the psyche the needs of displaced people; their struggles for food and water. modern technologies no longer require manna from heaven to deliver necessities to those in need. most of the times, we are able to take care of these needs. in doing so, those suffering may maintain faith that they will be able to move forward and hopefully get their lives back to normal.
the recent new york city bronx fire illustrates how these bible based morals can assist in the worst of times. after the brave heroics of safety officers getting the residents out of the burning building, the stark reality of took hold. there were individuals who lost everything and were in need to help. further, among those surviving, there were those in mourning as 17 individuals lost their lives.
a number of jewish organizations, upon hearing of the local fire, jumped into action.
motty brauner, from shomrim, stated, “we normally respond to concerns in our primary coverage, but we head out to wherever people call us or we are needed. In this particular incident, we were needed for relief in the first few hours, helping people with food and toiletries, and we stayed on-site for a couple of hours until everyone got what they wanted.” jns.org
the mobilization has taken many forms to address the many needs. $5,000.00, of sundry items were purchased and were to be distributed. suvs were brought over cooking utensils, a portable stove and propane tanks. a caterer was employed to provide additional foods like chicken nuggets, rice and hot soup. volunteers has been mobilized.
with experience in helping the needy, creativity as comes into play. another jewish organization was “planning to visit the hotels housing the fire victims on monday afternoon and deliver dozens of pizza makers, which can be used to grill a variety of items without a stove or fire, so families can make some of their own meals along with giving them food provisions.” jns.org
the organizations are also involved with long term planning to “provide brand-new appliances once the families can move into a new home.” jns.org
executing assistance on this level is noted by rabbi zirkind, “our membership at the riverdale jewish center thinks constantly about its role in the greater bronx community.” jns.org
in sum, society should not discount biblical morals and values. in troubling times, they can make a little difference….possibly more.
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“It’s not what you give a person; it’s that you care and show up that they see they are not alone,” he said. “It’s just so helpful to the people going through such a situation; it shows they don’t have to suffer in isolation, and that people care and want to give you comfort.”
Masbia is also undertaking some additional measures to help the families. They were planning to visit the hotels housing the fire victims on Monday afternoon and deliver dozens of pizza makers, which can be used to grill a variety of items without a stove or fire, so families can make some of their own meals along with giving them food provisions. They are also in talks to provide brand-new appliances once the families can move into a new home.Items collected for those recovering from a devastating fire in the Bronx, N.Y., on Jan. 9, 2022. Credit: The Riverdale Jewish Center.
‘Our small part in making lives a little better’
Rabbi Choli Mishuvalin, director of Chabad of the South Bronx, and his father-in-law, Rabbi Chayim Alevsky of Chabad of the West Side, also provided aid on Sunday night, taking turns handing out soup in Masbia’s pop-up tent. Mishulavin has set up a fund to purchase items for the families.
“Our hearts are hurting for the tragic loss of life, and all our Bronx neighbors in pain right now,” he wrote on Facebook Monday morning. “We’re raising 5k for the fire victims to purchase clothes and household items to get back on their feet. We’re one family; let’s take care of each other. A little bit with a lot of heart goes a long way!”
The Riverdale Jewish Center, which is located a few miles away in another Bronx neighborhood, is working with their local state senator, Alessandra Biaggi, to serve as an official drop-off location for essential supplies for families affected and health-care workers on the scene.
“Our membership at the Riverdale Jewish Center thinks constantly about its role in the greater Bronx community. We build active and vibrant relationships with local elected officials and government exactly for situations like this,” said the congregation’s senior rabbi, Dovid Zirkind. “When news broke of the devastating fire just a few miles from our community, our members were eager to act, and our leadership was quick to partner with our senators and congresspeople to find out how best we could serve.
“Financial contributions, basic supplies and offers to deliver anything and everything have been coming in rapidly since yesterday,” he said. “We are proud to do our small part in making the lives of those affected a little better during a difficult time.”
SAR Academy, a Jewish preschool through 12th-grade school also in Riverdale, has started an emergency fund to help the families who have been displaced by the fire.
“Our SAR community is saddened to hear of the devastating fire that took so many lives and injured many in an apartment building just three miles from our school. In addition to the loss of life and injuries, many families have been displaced and have suffered immeasurable loss,” said a message to parents. “At this time, as so many families will face long-term challenges, raising funds has been identified as the best way we can help. … We will also be collecting clothing, canned and packaged foods, and other supplies at the front of the academy building.”
The school also announced that students would be reciting Tehillim (Psalms) “to bring healing to all of our neighbors who are suffering.”
The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York is also working on providing assistance, though that is still in the planning stages.
“ … [W]e offer our hearts and help to the residents of the community affected, many of whom are African Muslims,” said the JCRC in a statement. “We are grateful to our longtime partner, Sheikh Musa Drammeh, for being on the scene to console the community at this devastating time, and we are in active discussion about how to best help the victims with this trauma. We also thank the FDNY [Fire Department of New York], many of whom risked their lives without oxygen tanks, for their bravery and heroism in rescuing the victims.”