Community

Martha and Waitstill Sharp, departing for Europe  in February, 1939Martha and Waitstill Sharp, departing for Europe in February, 1939Martha Sharp, a Providence-born philanthropist, never saw an obstacle she couldn’t overcome. When her parents placed her in the care of her aunt and uncle, she devoted herself to them, bringing lunch to her uncle at work every day. When her aunt expected her to give up education and contribute a steady paycheck, Sharp chose to go to Pembroke College (now Brown University) on a full scholarship. She picked up the box of belongings her aunt threw out of the window and never looked back. When she was about to marry Waitstill Sharp, a Unitarian minister from Wellesley, Massachusetts, Sharp’s future mother-in-law ripped a pearl necklace off her neck, barking, “You’re not worthy of my son!” The bride proceeded to walk down the aisle alone. When, in 1939, Everett Baker, Unitarian church leader, invited her and her husband to travel to Europe to rescue refugees from the Nazis, she agreed to leave her two small children in the care of her husband’s parishioners and join him on the trip. These are just some examples of Sharp’s determination. Misha Joukowsky doesn’t exaggerate when he pinpoints his grandmother’s essence, “Her whole life was about active decisions.”

/FRAN OSTENDORF“I can’t tell you why they hired me but they did, and it’s changed my life.” That’s what Neal Drobnis says about joining Jewish Family Service of Rhode Island in 2009. Drobnis runs the Kosher Senior Cafes at both the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island and Temple Am David with the dedication and support of countless volunteers and irreplaceable fellow team members, Elaine Shapiro, meal site assistant at the Alliance and Temple Am David Site Manager, Steven Tragar.

The meal sites are open to seniors and disabled adults from all walks of life and all faiths, though over 90 percent of participants are Jewish, says Drobnis. They fill a void for the community’s Jewish seniors who keep kosher and would not otherwise be able to participate in a traditional senior center or Meals-on-Wheels program.

When the Jewish women of South Providence went on strike against kosher meat markets in 1910, there was precedence in the well-publicized 1902 Lower East Side housewives’ boycott of Jewish butchers.

In May 1902, the retail price of kosher meat on the Lower East Side of New York jumped from 12 to 18 cents per pound in response to escalating wholesale prices charged by America’s cattle barons. Jewish butchers boycotted, and for a week the small retail kosher butchers of New York refused to sell meat. Their boycott failed to bring the wholesale prices down.

As the cold weather approaches it is good to start preparing. Here are some easy tips that can make you safe and ready for the cold winter days and should be on every senior’s to-do list.

• If you are using a portable heater, make sure that there is nothing around it and that you plug it directly into the outlet – it is not safe to use extension cords when using portable heaters.

• To avoid slips and falls, wear nonskid boots or shoes. Keep your feet dry and have a pair of shoes or boots with good traction.

• Keep at least two flashlights with extra batteries, one near your bed and one in your kitchen.

The question was never, “Are you going to vote?” For my parents, Beryl and Chaya Segal, and their circle of friends (most of them naturalized Americans), not to vote was disgraceful and a neglect of their duty as Americans. And – heaven forbid! – to ask, “For whom are you voting?” was unthinkably rude. Was not the ballot SECRET?