Students from the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School participate in a weekly activity called “Street Torah.” It is a chance to encounter, and interact with, the homeless community that lives on the streets in the vicinity of Newark Penn Station. During their time in Newark each week, students hand out clothing and food to dozens upon dozens of homeless people—crossing many different religions and races. It is not just the food and clothing distributions that are significant, however, it is the smiles and communication that takes place between the students and the homeless population. Contrary to many people’s perceptions, there are also Jewish people living on the streets, which was difficult and painful for many of the students to realize. That is a lesson the participants take from this experience, that despite what many think, people are people and that commonality is what unites us.
By Rabbi Richard Kirsch