Case count climbs in Israel, free kosher food in NJ, Zoom yahrtzeit for Lubavitcher Rebbe


Families in Elizabeth, N.J. have been lining up for free kosher food distributed as part of a weekly summer program, New Jersey Jewish News reports.

The distribution is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, which is available to families with children ages 18 and under. Its goal is to provide nutritionally balanced, free meals and snacks to children and teens in low-income areas when they’re not in school to receive their subsidized meals. But because of the far-reaching effects of Covid-19, the income eligibility requirement was dropped this summer, enabling all children and teens to qualify.

“We really have broken down that stigma that getting free food is only for poor families,” said Yael Bleicher of Elizabeth, a volunteer coordinator for the program, which will run through the summer.

Steve Karp, executive director of the Jewish Educational Center (JEC) in Elizabeth, told NJJN, “There are so many families out there where parents lost their income or were furloughed” because of the shutdown to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The number of coronavirus patients in Israel is doubling about every eight to 10 days, according to Health Ministry director-general Chezy Levy, the Jerusalem Post reports. The Ministerial Committee on Declaring Restricted Zones yesterday put closures on three areas of Ashdod and on Bat Yam, as nearly 700 people were diagnosed with the virus, and as it spread through the Israeli Army, schools and senior centers. Hundreds more people were forced into isolation.

Some 6,084 Israelis were infected with the virus early on Friday, the highest number since early May. The number of new patients was the highest in three months.

The Chabad-Lubavitch movement estimates that 100,000 people on 45,000 devices gathered in an online Zoom event yesterday to honor the late Chabad rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, JTA reports. The rabbi died in 1994.

Tens of thousands of men and women annually visit the Rebbe’s grave in Queens on the anniversary of his death. This year, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, they did it virtually.

People who tuned in gathered in 26 different Zoom rooms to form one mega event dubbed “Barcheinu Avinu,” or “Remembering Our Father.” The event  featured Torah speakers and singers.

The Orthodox Union’s Yachad, geared to individuals with disabilities, will offer Project Community 2020, a “unique summer experience for those in New York and New Jersey.” Beginning on July 13, it will focus on engaging teens, college students and Yachad members, and include small group, in-person recreational activities, Torah learning and volunteering.

Groups will be limited to 10 participants and be run in compliance with local health and safety guidelines. The New York programs will run for three two-week sessions in Long Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan, which will operate for five hours daily with night activities at least twice each week. In order to comfortably serve those from varying religious backgrounds, the programs will be offered for both coed and single gender groups.

The programs will be led by Yachad staff, many of whom had previously planned to work this summer in Yachad programs in sleepaway camps and Yachad’s Yad B’Yad travel program.

Recommended Reading

Allen Fagin, head of the Orthodox Union, reflects on how the pandemic has changed Orthodox life.” The retiring executive vice president of the OU says it is unlikely that the pandemic’s “months of isolation” from Jewish institutions will “leave us with no effects whatsoever.”


Matt Nosanchuk, president of New York Jewish Agenda (NYJA), a recently formed progressive organization, will conduct an online conversation on Friday at 4 p.m. with J Street NYC Programming Chair Gili Getz, to discuss the work of NYJA.

“Israel and Jewish Identity in the Age of Covid” is a new podcast produced by the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies, which is part of the law school at UC Berkeley. Episode 1 features Roy Peled, a visiting constitutional law professor, discussing the uncertainty in Israel’s political system and effects of the coronavirus pandemic on elections. It first aired in March. Each episode consists of a roughly half-hour interview, followed by a Q&A with students and faculty.

Project Inspire will offer a #ShareShabbat online program to “bring in the tranquility of Shabbat together” on Friday at 5:30 p.m. Hosted by Charlie Harary, it will feature  Rabbi Mordechai Becher, and Shabbat cooking with chef Jamie Geller.

American Friends of Magen David Adom and the Westchester Jewish Council will sponsor a webinar, “Innovation in the Time of COVID,” on Monday at noon.