In every community, you’d expect people to jump in to help friends and neighbors in need, but what if they need more help? Luckily, we live in a caring community, with impressive networks of social services.
Do you know someone who is hungry and keeps Kosher? There’s a Kosher food pantry ready to help. Seniors in need can also get vouchers for the farmers markets in the summer.
What about someone who can’t afford clothes? There’s a community g’mach. Or seniors who need transportation? Vouchers are available for taxis. The local synagogue may be able to arrange rides.
In fact, the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island started an initiative several years ago called Living on the Edge that helps people who are financially vulnerable or in need of social services or general information about Jewish Rhode Island. This program has had many successes, which we will report on in an upcoming Jewish Voice.
But we are not unique. It’s in our DNA: As individuals, we are programmed to be part of a greater community.
Nationally and globally, groups and individuals know that tzedakah means stepping up. So it comes as no surprise that wherever and whatever the tragedy – hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, mass shootings, war – there’s some kind of caring community response.
This comes to mind each time I hear about a tragedy or disaster – natural or manmade. It seems as if there have been quite a few weather-related catastrophes in the last couple of months. I was reminded about this again while watching the news coverage of the disastrous wildfires in Israel.
There are people who lost everything to the fast-moving fires. But immediately, organizations such as the Jewish Federations of North America and Chabad on Campus International established funds to help families get started again. And despite some controversy about the efficacy of replanting, there is fundraising going on to replant the scorched earth.
I’ve heard it said that tragedies bring out the best in us. I’d have to agree with that. But contributions to our caring community need not wait for a disaster, and can be large or small.
I see people in our community stepping up every day to help others in need. And, remember, “needs” take many forms. So if you help your neighbor keep the sidewalk clear or your co-worker finish an overwhelming project, you are part of that caring community. It happens year-round; it shouldn’t and doesn’t just need a crisis or disaster as a trigger point.