July 14, 2024
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Afikoman Gifts Are Part of Tomchei Shabbos Boxes This Pesach

While Tomchei Shabbos delivers fresh groceries every week to families who need it, we all know that Yom Tov shopping requires extra effort and is prohibitively expensive. To that end, Tomchei Shabbos has worked for weeks, creating boxes for these families with everything they need for Pesach. Included in them are 2,232 pounds of chicken, 1,504 pounds of meat, 8,152 eggs, 812 bottles of grape juice or wine, and 852 pounds of matzah. That’s in addition to giving the recipients a choice of 90 items including fruits, vegetables, herbs, oils, spices and everything else required to make Pesach. The food is purchased at wholesale or discounted prices from both wholesale distributors and locally at Cedar Market. For the first time, Tomchei Shabbos streamlined its processes this year with online ordering.

While Tomchei Shabbos prepares boxes each week, the group delivers on a much larger scale for the chag because they contact each local rabbi and ask if they have congregants who can benefit from one-time assistance. Tomchei Shabbos provides Pesach food for many Shearit HaPlate recipients as well, who generally receive weekly packages from restaurants which are closed during Pesach.

So large was the operation this year that the organization rented an additional warehouse space adjacent to their current space at 13 Foster Street in Bergenfield for the month of April, to accommodate the large quantities of food being packed and the increase in the number of recipients. This year, all of Bergen County’s packages were prepared in Bergenfield, consolidating the packing that has gone on in Fair Lawn in past years.

The tireless volunteers at Tomchei Shabbos never stop thinking about the families they help.

They noted that there are 225 children in the community who are receiving Tomchei Shabbos packages, and figured their parents are probably not thinking too much about afikoman gifts this Pesach. Recognizing that their parents might want to give afikoman gifts and the children might enjoy receiving such a treat, Tomchei Shabbos also placed in their boxes one $25 gift card, for each child, to Toys “R” Us. A special campaign helped them secure those gifts.

“I think it’s important for people to realize that there are people in our community who are in need and Tomchei Shabbos is there to help them. It is run by the community, for those in need in our community,” said Laizer Kornwasser, an active Tomchei Shabbos volunteer.

“It doesn’t necessarily hit home that a number of people we deliver to are people who live in the neighborhood, who daven in our shuls,” he added. Once people realize that a large part of these boxes go to Teaneck, Bergenfield and Fair Lawn, they understand a little better, he said.

Because so many of the recipients are local, it’s become all the more important to ensure the anonymity of the recipients. Incredible effort is put forward to ensure that no driver has involvement in the shuls or schools of any recipients. All recipients’ names are coded and no one except for one or two people know who the true recipients are.

It took 60 packers working over two days to create the boxes, with help one day from Bergenfield’s Mayor Norman Schmelz. On Tuesday night, over 100 volunteers delivered close to 1,000 boxes of food to approximately 200 Bergen County families, spending $360 to $750 (wholesale) per family, depending on its size.

In addition to Sara Zilberstein and Sara Walzman, the other lead managers and volunteer leaders involved are (in alphabetical order) Josh Cohen, Doris Eis, Ophir Eis, Faigy and Stanley Fischman, Avrumi Frischman, Ira Greenberg, Josh Greenberg, Shoshana Halpert, Laizer Kornwasser, Mayer Sabo, Jackie Schlanger, Jonah Schmidt, Joy Sklar, Norbert Strauss and Boris Tullman.

Uri Jacobs and family ran his matzah drive again and collected over 600 pounds of matzah for Tomchei Shabbos.

Those who donated shmura matzah, or funds toward shmura matzah, were Dovid Schild of Congregation Beth Abraham, and representatives from Congregation Beth Aaron, Congregation Rinat Yisrael, Congregation Shomrei Torah and Congregation Ohr HaTorah.

Tomchei Shabbos also received food donations from the Jewish Family Service food drive in April, and chocolate was collected and donated from Moriah school students. The organization also greatly appreciated a generous Pesach donation collected by Frisch students.

Tomchei Shabbos collected extra funds over the last week for both their Maot Chitim and afikoman campaigns. The total cost of Tomchei Shabbos’ Pesach campaign was just over $65,000. More is needed to support Tomchei Shabbos all year long.

Because Tomchei Shabbos knows how important it is to ensure that all gifts are needed, all recipient names are vetted from rabbis or schools. Even if someone is on the list, there is a continuous process to make sure the family should continue receiving packages. For anyone who may benefit from Tomchei Shabbos, or if anyone would like to donate, please learn more at http://tomcheishabbosofbergencounty.org.

By Elizabeth Kratz

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