Dear Shomrei Friends,
Here are some major items for your careful consideration. We realize there is a lot here, but there is a lot of need.
We have been researching the best ways to provide support to Afghan families who are being resettled in our region. As a start, we are teaming up with the grass roots organization One World, One Love, which has done amazing work with many refugee families during the past few years. The organization is now starting to help the Special Immigration Visa (SIV) families who are arriving in our area from Afghanistan — 10 families (approximately 50 people) so far, with many more expected to come. They have asked us to help provide the following items for the new homes that are being set up for the families: Continue reading
During the pandemic, many citizens have lost their jobs, have had their work hours cut, and have found that the limited resources they had no longer suffice. In times like these, it is fortunate that Montclair has caring institutions to support people until the national economic crisis improves.
At Shomrei, we have been concerned about the ever-expanding food insecurity in our town. One of our ongoing efforts has been our work in providing weekly dinners for people through MESH.
The Shomrei Social Action Committee created a subcommittee during Summer 2020 that would focus on food insecurity. One of our first initiatives was to connect with the Human Needs Food Pantry to collaborate on their annual Thanksgiving collection. Continue reading
Dear MESH Supporters,
Even though it’s been over seven months since we’ve been able to welcome guests to the Carol Starr MESH Cafe at Shomrei, Shomrei has continued to do the mitzvah of providing meals to food insecure members of our community. Through the generosity of numerous congregants, we have been able to fund 40 takeaway meals from Villa Victoria Restaurant on Park Street in Montclair, every Tuesday in May through June and resuming again in September.
Villa Victoria is a convenient location to reach and, according to Dr. Gwen Ames, Executive Director of MESH, our guests LOVE the food they receive. The guests in the photos agreed to have their pictures in Shomreiweek because they want to show us their appreciation.
If you would like to contribute to Shomrei’s MESH fund to ensure that we can continue to do this vital mitzvah, donations are always welcome.
To make a donation to MESH, go to: shomrei.org/donate
Lynne and Aileen
The Carol Starr MESH Cafe at Shomrei (Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless) is a cooperative effort between the MESH organization and local synagogues and churches. While in-person service has been discontinued, donations from each institution are being used to provide hearty, nutritious meals for the hungry. Shomrei’s turn is on Tuesday nights. Please help fulfill this crucial mitzvah by making a donation at: shomrei.org/donate.
As we announced in our last update, the Westfield Fun Club, working with the International Rescue Committee, has asked us to “adopt” some refugee families in need of food and household essentials for the summer. Thanks to the generosity of our community, we have been able to commit to supporting three food-insecure families, at a cost of about $100 a week for eight weeks. Each of the families is headed by a single mom, and has one or two children.
The Westfield Fun Club, with whom we have been collaborating over the past few months to deliver food and other essential household items to over 100 refugee families in the Elizabeth area during the pandemic, is winding down their Emergency Food Initiative. (See the email) The Fun Club happily reports that many of the families no longer need the emergency supplies since they have returned to work and/or have seen an increase in SNAP benefits.
However, there are still roughly a dozen refugee and asylum-seeking households – mostly senior citizens – who need our continued assistance. The Fun Club is arranging for these families to be “adopted” by other families or groups who can provide them with weekly deliveries of food and household items.
A major message that has been communicated in response to the murder of George Floyd is that we each must find a way to take action. The Social Action Committee, chaired by Audrey Levitin and Sarita Eisenberg, published in the June 4th ShomreiWeek a range of opportunities for us to contemplate.
Last Sunday (June 7) I opted to attend a Prayer Vigil, which took place at 2:00 p.m. at the Football Field in Glenfield Park, located on Maple Avenue in Montclair. This gathering was organized by Reverend Michael Spivey of the Citadel of Hope Worship Center in Bloomfield. It was described as an open invitation for all to participate in prayers for our families, community, and our nation. In that it was stated that demonstrators would be adhering to social distancing guidelines, I felt that this was a safe way in which to express solidarity and to advocate for change in our community.
Generally, attending a protest is not a hard decision for me—find your walking shoes, grab a sign and go. Yet COVID has made this a wrenching decision—how do you isolate yourself to stop the spread of one disease and step out to stop the ravages of racism and hate.
After 12 weeks of self-imposed quarantine, the protests compelled me to step out. As I weighed the risks, I saw the risk of very few people showing up as greater than the risk of my getting infected. And while I know that protests do not change the world overnight, silence kills.
Each one of us must judge our tolerance for risk, this time the risk of remaining silent was greater than the risk of becoming ill.
I’m writing to everyone who has helped host homeless families at Shomrei Emunah in recent years. As you probably know, IHN stays actively involved with families who have moved into their own homes. Quite a few of the adults in these families are now essential workers and others have lost their jobs and are struggling to get by.
Our contacts at IHN just let us know that several families badly need help paying for basic purchases, including everything from hand sanitizer to summer clothing for their children. If you can help, please send a check in any amount you choose to Brenda Myrick, IHN’s Director of Social Services, at 46 Park St. Montclair, NJ 07042.
Thanks to all of you for being faithful supporters of IHN. I know it’s a tough time for everyone, but with relatively small individual donations, this is an opportunity to come together and really help struggling families — including some we have hosted at Shomrei.
My very best,
Protest in Livingston; photo courtesy of northjersey.com
With great sorrow and great outrage, I join with all people who steadfastly stand for the ultimate value of every human life. The murder of Mr. George Floyd is one more obscene crime in a long history of crimes committed against people of color in our society, crimes that have been ignored and dismissed for too long, crimes that seek to declare that Black lives just do not matter. Black Lives Matter.
During this time of global pandemic, we are under incredible strain to protect our own lives, the lives of our loved ones, and, if we take this situation seriously, the lives of all people. But we must realize that we have been exposed, not only to a deadly virus, but also to long festering failures in how we live as a society. So, it is doubly tragic that in this time when saving a life is so paramount in our thinking, the wanton disregard for human life, systemically entrenched in our society, still continues to thrive. Continue reading