Last month, as I sat in the comfort of my home in Ra’anana, Israel watching the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey, 7,000 miles away, my heart broke. I have friends and loved ones in Houston; I know the most amazing, warm and loving people there.
I had to do something to help; it was my calling. I could not stand to see their suffering and pain. The first thought that came to mind: the community would need food.
Working in the corporate finance arena, I reached out to Itzik Saig, CEO of The Osem Group, Israel’s famous kosher food firm. As a native of South Africa who had lived in Manhattan Beach, Calif., before making aliyah 13 years ago, I have known the Osem brand my whole life.
Osem is a connection to Israel. I wanted to bring a connection from Israel to Houston. Saig was eager to help.
Ofira Goldwasser, Saig’s assistant, decided that Osem USA, based in Englewood Cliffs, N.J., would be the conduit. Lilly Goldenberg, logistics manager in New Jersey, took care of the details.
Osem donated 10,000 pound of food products – various kinds of crackers, instant soups, a variety of snacks, instant puddings, couscous, rice-and-lentil mix, rice and vegetables – at the company’s cost.
The value of donation was $13,000, plus $2,200 for delivery. It was a mammoth effort on the part of the Osem Group and Osem USA, arranging for safe delivery to Houston, which took a week.
Lilly and I spoke every day. I sat up late at night into the morning hours, communicating by email and by phone.
Who would help coordinate the arrival of the delivery in the Houston Jewish community?
There was so much chaos, many Jewish institutions damaged so badly, families with no money and no homes, that the community decided to have Osem send the products to the Houston Foodbank, which distributed the food.
I also reached out to other people: the Houston JCC, the Houston Rockets basketball team, the Houston mayor’s office, Interfaith Ministries for Greater Houston – they were all incredibly obliging.
In Ra’anana, as I marked the High Holy Days, it felt good to know that I had done my part to help the Jewish community of Houston. They would not go hungry. This made my Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur even more special than ever before.