July 14, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Remembering 9/11: JLIC Brings Breakfast And Gratitude to the Community

(Courtesy of JLIC) Young professionals and college students on JLIC campuses across New Jersey, New York and the tri-state area delivered breakfast and smiles to local fire stations, first responders and homeless shelters as a powerful demonstration of their appreciation on the anniversary of 9/11.

JLIC collected Venmo contributions in symbolic amounts of $9.11, which gradually added up to thousands of dollars. The funds were donated to Tuesday’s Children, a national nonprofit organization that provides essential support and services to families impacted by terrorism, military conflict and mass violence. Tuesday’s Children was formed in the aftermath of the tragic events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001.

Launched in 2015 by Rabbi Joe Wolfson and student James Goldberg at New York University in Manhattan, JLIC’s annual 9/11 program has continued to grow in scope and impact. Wolfson, now based in Tel Aviv, still oversees the project as JLIC’s national chesed coordinator. The program currently includes nine participating locations across the East Coast and engages hundreds of Jewish students and young professionals.

JLIC alumni play an important role in the program’s success. As undergrads at NYU and Cooper Union, Molly Leifer and Yaacov Davidowitz were passionate about JLIC’s unique 9/11 initiative. It made sense to them that a downtown New York City college would connect to its neighboring community and show gratitude to local first responders. As young professionals today, Leifer’s and Davidowitz’ commitment to carrying on JLIC’s mission led them to spearhead efforts to galvanize volunteers in downtown Manhattan.

Leifer explained, “I reached out to friends, families, coworkers, colleagues, really anyone in my network, to give a donation to Tuesday’s Children and help support victims of 9/11 and their families. All the donations and money went to that. And then in addition to the fundraising, we did a breakfast run ahead of 9/11 on Sunday morning, to go to first responders. We visited fire stations and police stations to bring breakfast and coffee and just show our appreciation for their work in our community.”

Davidowitz, a native New Yorker who as a child was less than a mile away when the World Trade Center collapsed, took it upon himself to raise funds and organize deliveries in partnership with NYU’s JLIC director, Rabbi Leead Staller. Together with student volunteers, they shared words of Torah along with meaningful moments and reflections before delivering donuts, coffee and bagels to two firehouses and a local city homeless shelter on the Bowery.

“As we were arriving to deliver breakfast, one of the fire stations was holding a memorial,” said Davidowitz. “Many of the firefighters who were there on 9/11 are still at the station. They were at Ground Zero helping all of the victims and survivors.”

He added, “It’s an amazing program to really give back to the community. It was a very meaningful morning and a very beautiful experience. And it’s a JLIC project that I hope continues on for many, many years.”

Across JLIC campuses, directors and volunteers joined the mission to show their gratitude. After delivering breakfast to the FDNY’s Engine 47 on 113th Street, volunteers led by JLIC Director Rabbi Elie Buechler of Columbia/Barnard personally thanked Columbia University’s public safety personnel. Buechler also emphasized the importance of this program in getting students involved.

Sharing a similar sentiment of respect and recognition to local first responders was University of Pennsylvania’s JLIC Director Rabbi Joshua Klein. “It’s important that the police department and fire department, who regularly come to the aid of our community writ large and the community of students at Penn, understand that we appreciate them, and they should understand that they’re providing a wonderful service.”

He added, “They are protecting us, they’re helping us out from small things to big things, and they’re helping us feel safe, especially Jewish students on campus. On Shabbat, if there’s ever any problems, God forbid, they come to help us. Today is just a special day to be able to give a nod to them and really appreciate the work that they do all year round. Today’s a day to be able to remember that and appreciate them.”

One heartwarming incident at Binghamton University in New York demonstrated the widespread backing for this initiative. As JLIC Director Rabbi Ben Menora shared: “A student was at a local coffee shop asking the manager to support the 9/11 program by providing drinks; she said she’d try. The manager’s dad who was standing there pulled out $100 and said, “Even if she can’t, you have my support!”

Rutgers University JLIC Director Rabbi Avi Schwartz oversaw a large group of 34 volunteers as they delivered breakfast to firefighters in New Brunswick, a few blocks away from the Rutgers Hillel.

“Especially now that most of our students on campus were born after 9/11,” Rabbi Schwartz said, “it may be easy to forget the effect the day had on our lives. It is incredibly important to never forget what a tragedy the day was for all of the United States and the world, but more importantly to show hakaras hatov to those who helped us get through it.”

For more info visit oujlic.org.

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