Tikkun Olam at Temple Israel: feeding the hungry during COVID

by | Nov 25, 2020 | Other News

Not many people (if any) have fields to harvest or vineyards to glean, but as Jews, can still perform the mitzvah of Pe’ah by feeding the hungry—and Temple Israel does, generously and often, in gifts to Mazon, the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund, and its annual High Holy Days Food Drive. While the pandemic might have prevented congregants from bringing their bags and donations to the synagogue this year, it didn’t prevent the ongoing hunger that exists within the community.

And so the idea of a “drive-by drive” took shape, and discussions were held with Jodi Laibstain at Jewish Family Service. The drive-by drive quickly became part of President Steve Legum’s messages to the congregation, on Shabbos, in the Bulletin, and at any gathering of Temple Israelites. Legum tapped his wife Lorna to help coordinate, and details started falling into place. Three drop off locations were planned: Temple Israel, Larkwood Drive and Oceans Condominium. A fourth was secured when Norman Soroko added Uno’s Pizza. An attorney, Legum, put boxes in several law offices, his accountant’s office, and his own office building.

As word filtered out about Temple Israel’s food drive, Beth El was contacted about endorsing the drive, and Temple Israel’s flyer was highlighted in Beth El’s bulletin and outreach grew.

Sunday, November 8 couldn’t have been a more perfect day for the drive: the sun was shining, the temperature was delightful, and there was a nice fall breeze. Several TI congregants helped transfer groceries from donating cars to the drivers.

The first fully loaded SUV pulled away from Temple Israel around 11:45 am, and headed for the loading dock at the Sandler Family Campus, where the JFS Food Pantry is located. And while final numbers weren’t available when this was written, it’s known that there were more than 100 individual donations of food and money, that filled 10 cars, trucks, and vans to the brim.

Being unable to participate in Temple Israel’s November 8 event didn’t stop others from helping: several individuals conducted food drives of their own and brought the food to JFS.

“I am still so blown away by what [Temple Israel] and our community did,” Jodi Laibstain, JFS Volunteer/Transportation coordinator, says. “I happen to be one of the lucky individuals that sees the thankfulness on the faces (beneath their masks) of our neighbors that will take home food to feed their family. My estimate of the food that was delivered was about $10,000 plus $1,071.00 in checks. My heart is so full and I am still on such a high from what [was] accomplished.”

Even in these challenging times, it is important to perform mitzvot. Yasher koach and todah rabbah to Temple Israel and everyone in the community who participated—whether one can or a truckload—to the drive.

– Bobbie Fisher