Rabbi Shimon the Righteous talks about the three “pillars” that the world rests upon:
Torah, avoda and gemilut chasadim (acts of loving kindness). Pirkei Avot 1:2
Our community has answered the needs of our people in all corners of this world over time.
At no time in recent memory has the need to help fellow Jews in the Houston area, as well as their neighbors, been more urgent and immediate. And at this writing, we also know that Florida is in the path of Hurricane Irma, already described as the second-largest Atlantic hurricane in history. Many of us have already made efforts to open our homes to families evacuating.
Sometimes, when we look around we get complacent. We see, with gratitude of course, that major charities and wealthy individuals such as entertainers and athletes have already raised millions of dollars for Houston. But the truth is, every volunteer charity drive, no matter its size, is important and praiseworthy. Besides being an amazing living example for your children, your example makes others feel they could get their arms around a charity drive, which doesn’t have to be for a million dollars or even a thousand.
Locally, the Rozenberg family of Bergenfield declared a “Hot Dogs for Houston” day outside their home this past weekend, raising $700 for the Orthodox Union’s Houston relief effort. $700! That’s a lot of hot dogs and a great effort. Two other families, the Schmutters and the Korns, also of Bergenfield, put together a lemonade stand and raised $230 for Houston’s Meyerland Minyan.
And these are just the ones we’ve heard of. We are sure there have been many more efforts, both private and public. So many of our community members have given in so many ways, even those who have stopped what they were doing and have traveled to Houston to help in the cleanup effort. We even overheard a woman tell someone she had to get home because she was cooking Shabbos food for a family in Houston, which her husband planned to transport on Friday.
Whether it’s selling lemonade, making hot dogs, establishing collection centers for non-perishable foods and other supplies, writing a check, donating online or traveling to join a cleanup effort, our community has heard the call and taken it as our responsibility to be there for one another.
During this month of Elul, we hear in the shofar the clarion call to be a volunteer first responder at any level, to be part of what has become a wonderful Kiddush Hashem. We are proud of our community for what has already been accomplished, and we are even prouder to know that our service to others—thus enabling the world to rest on its pillars—has only just begun.