Shomrei’s Younger Generation Rises to the Coronavirus Challenge


Last Friday, I had an alarming call from a member of Shomrei. Between bone-rattling coughs, she told me that both she and her partner had Covid 19 and were quarantined in their home. Both over 60, they desperately needed groceries and didn’t know whom to call since all of their friends are in the age group vulnerable to the Coronavirus. (The couple requested that their names be withheld.)

As coordinator of the Mensch Squad, I was braced for such calls to come eventually, but this was our first, and I warily reflected on the demographics of our squad – most of us tilt toward the same vulnerable age group as the couple who needed our help. Indeed, some of our more faithful members are in their 90s.

I sent out an urgent email request for shoppers, emphasizing that no one 60 or over need apply. I also posted a request for someone to pick up a prescription at CVS for my husband, Matt Purdy (who has nothing resembling Covid-19). And then I waited.

Literally within minutes, my inbox was bristling with responses. College and high school students grounded by the virus wrote in, saying they desperately wanted to help. The Millennials and Generation Z were coming to our rescue! Amalia Nachman (daughter of Dan Nachman and Jan Hoffman), who is home-bound from high school, and Rose Green, who came home from NYC to be with her parents (Stuart Green and Jennifer Moses), raised their hands and rushed into the breach. Amalia so passionately wanted to help that she emailed and then called me on my cell phone, pleading to be given this opportunity to be useful in the face of the suffering. She made me feel as if the Mensch Squad was doing HER a favor. And Rose said she already was heading to CVS and was happy to pick up Matt’s prescription — as if it was no big deal at all. (To us, it was a huge deal!)

It didn’t stop there. Maya and Jeremy Stepansky, both home from their shuttered college campuses, offered to do both errands, too. Shout-outs also to young (and new-ish) mensch Brian Factor, a preschool dad, who has been raising his hand often and did so again Friday. So did Sarah Kravits and Rachel Kanter. Charlie Breslin had just returned from a grocery run of his own, but said he’ll help the next time. And many 60-and-over members wrote to share their concern.

Only two or three hours after the request came in, Amalia had delivered the couple’s groceries just outside their front door, and Rose had dropped off Matt’s medicine on our front stoop. None of us came within six feet of each other. But I was able to thank Rose from a safe distance, and the couple sent a grateful email to Amalia and made a contribution to Shomrei in her honor.

It’s now several days later, and there’s good news from our Covid sufferers: both are feeling much better and are confident they’re on the road to recovery. It’s reassuring to know that people over 60 can suffer relatively manageable symptoms from the potentially deadly virus.

I have a strong feeling that the Mensch Squad will be summoned again as this pandemic proceeds, and it’s a comfort to know how many people stand ready to help. In particular, I’m heartened that  young congregants stepped up so eagerly. Often, I have lamented that our membership is aging and I’ve wondered who will pick up the torch when we get even older. But Friday showed me that there’s nothing to fear. We have a younger generation with strong arms and wide-open hearts, and they have our (aging) backs. At this grim and scary time, that is reason for hope and gratitude.

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4 thoughts on “Shomrei’s Younger Generation Rises to the Coronavirus Challenge

  1. Great to know there is no age requirement for being a Mensch. They come in all sizes, shapes and ages.
    Thanks Amalia for stepping up.

  2. Well well done. Thanks for the story, thanks Mensches and thanks Amalia (and the younger generation). Hurray!

  3. Special thanks to Dale and to all those who volunteer. You are very special people. Stay well. Appreciatively, Jerilyn Margulies

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