April 14, 2024
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Chabad of Greenwich Delivers 500 ‘Shabbat-to-Go’ Bags

(Courtesy of Chabad of Greenwich) In a challenging time like this, when all we need is encouragement and higher spirits, Chabad of Greenwich sought to reach out to the Jewish community.

Schneur Deren, from Chabad of Greenwich, said their center hatched an idea three weeks ago.

“We all know that COVID has had an impact on everyone’s life, it’s a very tough time for all of us,” said Deren, whose parents Rabbi Yossi and Maryashie Deren are the directors of Chabad Lubavitch in town. “But during this time, there are less outer distractions and we have more time to spend with each other and our families. That’s Shabbat, a time when we turn off all our connection to the world, no phones, no TV—it is a time to rest from a busy week. God gave us this gift of rest for a reason, let’s go for it! So we came up with this idea of distributing Shabbat-to-go bags.”

The Shabbat shalom bag includes two loaves of challah, a kiddush cup, a bottle of grape juice, two Shabbat candles, a scroll providing inspiring information for the week, a Shabbat dinner guide, a charity box and treats for the kids. Deren said the candles are especially significant—this mitzvah is for women and girls.

“A candle can shine very far, they light up our homes and can light up the world,” Deren said. “Women and girls have a great influence about what goes on in the home and family, so we encourage women and girls to light them.”

Two weeks ago, Chabad sent Shabbat bags to 50 families and saw that number grow to 500 families this past week.

Their volunteers set up a curbside contactless pick up station at the Chabad center for over 30 families on Friday.

“The next day, we received an email from a member of our community, overjoyed about how he loved the Shabbat bag so much. He said he wanted 500 families to have that Shabbat experience at his own expense, and from there #Shabbat500 was born,” said Deren.

By the following Tuesday, volunteers wearing gloves and masks had come to the center to start packing all 500 bags.

“By Thursday afternoon, we had already delivered 200 bags to the community, with emails and replies of appreciation pouring in from all those who received,” Deren stated. “On Friday, someone called saying they saw a news story on TV about the Shabbat campaign and that they would love to volunteer in the deliveries, which took place all day around the town and finished right before Shabbat, when the last few bags were given to Jewish healthcare workers in appreciation for their sacrifice on the front lines.”

Those who signed up then participated in a pre-Shabbat Zoom event with the Greenwich community and shared their Shabbat tables on social media with #Shabbat500.

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