Continued Assistance Needed

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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.

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Prayer Vigil in Glenfield Park

vigilA 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.

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Protesting during COVID

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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.

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Seeking Help for IHN families

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Dear friends,

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.

Finally, here are some other requests: One of the families badly needs a car. If you or someone you know is willing to donate or sell a car at a very low price, please email Melissa Perales, IHN’s new head of community engagement, at email hidden; JavaScript is required. Please also let Melissa know if you can donate a dresser.

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,
Dale

Responding to a Society in Crisis

Protest in Livingston; photo courtesy of northjersey.com

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

A Week of Action: Message from the Social Action Committee

MLKDear Friends,

I am outraged and saddened at the killing of George Floyd. On the news, I heard a young black man say that when he leaves the house in the morning, he never knows whether he will come back alive. I cannot imagine living with that reality for him or for his family.

Amidst this, I am proud of our state. In Newark, the police stood back and let their community protest peacefully. In Camden, police joined with their community to protest racism and police brutality.

Several groups in Montclair are collaborating to host activities for a week of action. Please consider joining in these events: Continue reading

Helping Myself by Helping Others

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It was the end of March. Except for some walks around the block, I hadn’t gone anywhere or even left the house for several weeks. And then I received an email from the County Freeholders — We Need Your Help! Support Toni’s Kitchen.

The email continued:  We urge you to support Toni’s Kitchen as they are being overwhelmed with the growing demands for their services. Toni’s Kitchen provides food and other critical services to those in the greater Montclair/Bloomfield Community. They are now providing groceries and fresh produce to students who receive free or reduced priced meals from the Montclair Public Schools as well as Senior Citizens and medically at risk residents.

I made a donation.

And then I signed up to help.  Continue reading

Shomrei Responds to Plea from Westfield Fun Club to Help Refugee Families

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We received an email from the Westfield Fun Club regarding their continuing efforts to assist refugee families in the Elizabeth area (including the families we have been assisting) during the coronavirus pandemic.  As you can imagine, the Fun Club has been inundated with requests for additional assistance, and is now helping 55 families, up from about 20 just two weeks ago. We have found that the Fun Club offers us many valuable ways to help the refugee families that we would not have on our own. The latest example is that they are making regular deliveries of essential food and supplies to the families during this crisis period.

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MESH Report Apr 7, 2020

MESH cafe logoOn Tuesday evening, 4/7/20, Shomrei’s MESH Cafe funded 40 takeaway meals from Villa Victoria Restaurant on Park St in Montclair. MESH Guests line up one by one in compliance with social distancing and are given a salad, 2 slices of pizza with protein and a beverage.

According to MESH Executive Director, Dr. Gwen Ames, our guests love this meal.  If less than 40 guests show up, MESH staff distribute the remainder of the meals at the Bay Street train station where homeless often congregate. Mr Joe Tyson, MESH security personnel, told me that MESH is distributing masks to help the guests protect themselves from exposure to the virus.

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MESH Report Mar 31, 2020

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Many thanks to Shirley and David Grill for contributing 30 takeaway meals for our MESH guests this past Tuesday evening.  The bags were prepared by the Watchung Deli and included: 27 Turkey on Rye, 3 Vegetarian Sandwiches, chips, cookies and a water bottle.  The deli delivered the sandwiches to Karen Altman, who included a note in each bag with the menu and a message from Shomrei to stay safe, healthy and to follow social distancing!  Karen brought the meals to the Salvation Army driveway where the MESH Staff removed them from her trunk and distributed them to the MESH guests who were already lined up.  Many thanks to Karen!  Continue reading