May 20, 2024
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May 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

No Such Thing as a Free Lunch

As noted in a cover story in The Link last week, the OU’s Teach Coalition has announced the reopening of kosher meal distribution for families with children up to age 18 in many local communities and throughout New Jersey. I am not interested in the various comments of whether or not those in our communities really need this gift or the number of families whose financial status has changed radically since before or during the pandemic. I am sure that in many families, although it looks as if the facade of their homes is glittering, things may be different within. As well, commentaries of the content of the boxes both positive and negative lead to a nebulous discussion. As has been previously stated, no one is being forced to take anything.

Instead I would prefer to concentrate on the opportunity that this gift has given us and how many of us are taking it seriously. For instance, as this project has been diligently set forth by the Teach Coalition of the OU, how many of us have taken the time to speak to our children about the OU and what it is and the hard work that was involved in carrying out this mission? How many of us have ever related to our families what things were like prior to the OU’s kashrut division becoming a part of everyone’s lives? Kashrut was at one time rampantly corrupt. It was in 1950, when Rabbi Alexander Rosenberg became the kashrut administrator of the OU, that proper pieces began to fall into place and we now have probably the best respected and most well-known kashrut agency in the world.

I wonder how many have shared with their children that prior to attending an NCSY function they had never tasted what Shabbat really is. Many, by chance, following along with a friend, attended a program that seemed like it would give them the opportunity to be away from home for at least a weekend. Unimaginably, that program, the one Shabbat, followed by another and another, slowly changed their entire lives.

Many made great sacrifices that our children will probably never completely understand: refusing to eat certain foods that their parents regularly served at their tables, making it more difficult for a family to go on vacation, not wishing to participate in certain family functions. Children and parents made sacrifices to live a more Torah-observant life, in some cases children changing the lives of their parents as well, and in others coming to a mutual agreement to each do what they thought was best. These changes can be totally attributed to NCSY, the organization, the rabbis, the advisers and the parent organization, the OU. How tragic that within a very short time of each other, both Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, the first national director of NCSY, and Rabbi Chaim Wasserman, the first assistant national director of NCSY, recently passed away, BDE.

Our children are growing up being more aware of the special-needs community due to the advent of Yachad. Long gone are the days when small children walking with a parent were directed to not pay attention or look at a person being pushed or wheeled down a street. Now children whose parents grew up with Yachad are encouraged to greet them and smile.

Our children will not know unless we tell them of the RCA, a brotherhood and sisterhood of the modern Orthodox community that has done and continues to do more each day to ensure that Jewish life in the world and on campuses through the JLIC program will continue to educate and stand up for what is right in the world despite the many challenges in existence today.

Next time you accept one of those boxes and share them with your children, take the opportunity to give them some history of how life has changed Jewishly and how much we appreciate what has been done for us.

By Nina Glick

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