June 16, 2024
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YIOT Sisterhood Initiative Sends 550 Mishloach Manot

V’nahafochu has never been more applicable than this past year. Nearly every facet of our lives has been turned upside down. So why shouldn’t the way we prepare mishloach manot change as well?

For years the Young Israel of Teaneck (YIOT) Sisterhood has run a successful mishloach manot program for its members. Families would send to one another through the shul and there would be volunteer packing parties and carpools for package deliveries. The YIOT Sisterhood knew they would need to do something different and meaningful this year, something that would show solidarity with the local small-business community that has struggled throughout the pandemic.

That’s when Deena Rosenberg, YIOT Sisterhood co-president, reached out to the sisterhoods of Shaarei Tefillah and the Jewish Center of Teaneck (JCOT) to work together on a joint initiative.

“The main theme of our mishloach manot program this year is Shop Local,” said Rosenberg.

“We chose to purchase all our mishloach manot goods from one business owner who happens to own two businesses. We approached Joel Schiff of World of Goodies and Heimish, a Shabbat takeout store that was under construction pre-pandemic and opened this past fall. Joel has always been eager to help our community and has been generous with our shuls and schools. We were excited to support his business and give the Teaneck community a taste of what both his stores offer. We also had help from Mendy from FillerUp! Wines who provided the wine for our packages.”

Bracha Goetz, YIOT Sisterhood co-president, said: “It’s difficult to think back to last year at this time when we really didn’t know what was going on and things were slowly starting to shut down due to corona. When we realized that Purim was on Erev Shabbat this year, we thought this would be a great way to combine our collective resources and purchasing power to support this new Shabbat takeout business and give everyone a taste of Shabbat, and a small sampling of all three West Englewood Avenue businesses. From challah to a candy dessert dish, each package was a substantial gift.”

According to Elanna Reiss, YIOT Sisterhood member and JCOT office manager, “It was extremely important to us that everything was handled in the safest possible way. This year, rather than packing as a group, and to limit the number of people handling the items, World of Goodies and Heimish packed everything for us in a clean offsite environment. Not only did this ensure the safest handling of goods, it also protected our volunteers.”

Jenny Horwitz, YIOT Sisterhood past president, worked closely with Schiff on the logistics of package assembly and distribution of nearly 550 packages. To further limit the number of people coming into contact with the packages, each shul chose a garage pickup, an in-shul pickup or another option, with prior registration required.

“The theme of Purim is unity,” Rabbi Daniel Fridman, rabbi of the Jewish Center of Teaneck shared. “When Esther decides that she must approach the king, she tells Mordechai to gather the Jewish people together. In times of great challenge, we unify. Haman accused us of being a discordant people. Yet through our unity, we demonstrated the mendacity of his claims, and prevailed, with the help of Hashem. In this spirit, our shuls united this Purim.”

“I’ve been in the community for three and a half years and it’s been a pleasure working with almost every organization, school and shul,” said Schiff, the owner of World of Goodies and Heimish. “When the sisterhoods came to us because they wanted to support small businesses, I was incredibly moved. I wanted to come up with something really special for these shuls.

“This year a lot of people downsized their mishloach manot,” Schiff continued. “I wanted to do the opposite and make people feel they were getting something special, something more. We came up with a really nice Shabbat-in-a-box that every family member can enjoy. And it was quite affordable. I was very happy to be part of it.”

Rachaeli Berman Bacharach and Elissa Siev, co-presidents of the Shaare Tefillah Sisterhood, reflected: “The past year has been a time of struggle for us all. While we have all had to maintain our distance from one another, we have been fortunate to find different ways of connecting. Whether it be shul WhatsApp groups or virtual events, we have been able to recreate the communal feel. This project is no different.

“We feel so lucky to be part of an amazing community that has come together to support each other. We feel fortunate to give back to our local businesses that have provided comfort to us all during this unprecedented time.”

By Sara Kosowsky Gross

 

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