May 29, 2024
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Kushner Homelessness Awareness Committee Strives to Give Back

When people hear the words hunger, poverty, or discomfort, different thoughts pop into their heads. The members of the Kushner Homelessness Awareness Committee (KHAC) immediately think of the countless indigent people they have had the opportunity to help through this student-run group at the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School. Established during the 2012-2013 school year, this committee has grown and expanded beyond the expectations of faculty supervisor Rabbi Richard Kirsch.

“When we began this group, it was because a few students wanted to give back. It has become so much more than that. Our students are learning hands-on about what it means to be indigent and that actively participating in the mitzvot of areyvut and tikkun olam not only helps others, but warms your heart as well, when you see the smiles on the faces of the people you are helping,” Rabbi Kirsch said.

The KHAC meets weekly to discuss food or clothing drives and plan events. Typical events include trips to Newark, New Jersey, to deliver clothes, food, and toiletries to the city’s homeless population. In addition, the group volunteers at a soup kitchen every year on Thanksgiving Day.

Guest speakers are often invited to meetings to help foster programs that raise homelessness awareness. One speaker discussed an organization called “Covenant House,” which led to an amazing and inspiring, now annual, event known as the “Solidarity Sleep-out,” the first of which took place last year. The event not only gave the participants a real feeling of what it is like to sleep outside in the cold, but also raised money which was then donated to Covenant House in support of its homeless youth programs. During the evening, there were discussions about ways to help others, culminating in the students actually sleeping outside, during the winter, on the campus of RKYHS. The Solidarity Sleep-out has been a huge success, and something students look forward to repeating.

The KHAC is fast becoming one of the coveted chugs at RKYHS, and freshman and sophomores are, to their dismay, being told that they will have to wait their turn to join this committee until they are upperclassman. Special thanks from the committee goes out to Paul Bier and Nosh Pit of West Orange for its contributions of bagels which the students often use to make sandwiches to bring with them to Newark. Contributions of adult sized coats and jackets are always welcome by the committee, and Rabbi Kirsch can be contacted at the school to facilitate any and all donations.

“This committee is something I feel all of our students should try to participate in. It will change their perspective forever,” said Rabbi Kirsch.

By Lindsey Blenden and Jill Kirsch

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