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April 19, 2020 9:59 am

Chabad Center in Southeast Florida Distributes 50,000-Plus Masks Streetside

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian / JNS.org

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis helps out the Las Olas Chabad Jewish Center in distributing free masks to Florida residents in need. Photo: Las Olas Chabad Jewish Center.

JNS.org – A Chabad center in Florida conducted a free drive-through mask distribution and handed out more than 50,000 masks to help people stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Las Olas Chabad Jewish Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., began operating the giveaway at about noon on Friday. The masks were sponsored by the Zebersky family, who are members and donors of the center.

Each mask came packaged with an encouraging message that read “Also highly contagious—kindness, patience, love, enthusiasm and positive attitude. Don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.”

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis showed up to help distribute the masks.

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On Instagram, Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) commended Chabad, the donating family and the volunteers helping pass out the protective gear as “community heroes.”

Rabbi Chaim Slavaticki, who co-directs the Las Olas Chabad Jewish Center with his wife, Chaya Mushka, told JNS that they held a distribution last week when they handed out food to some 1,500 people. Many of those recipients had inquired about obtaining masks.

“We kept getting requests about getting masks being that it’s almost impossible to find them for anybody—from nurses at the hospital to shelters for the homeless,”  said the rabbi. “The elderly community was also reaching out for masks just to keep themselves and their family healthy.”

As many as 650,000 or more Jews live in the state of Florida, the majority of them on the southeast coast, from Miami to Jupiter.

He added that “we have to make sure the community comes together. We’re all in it together, and we have to make sure everybody has what they need to keep themselves safe.”

This day, like the recent food day, proved a real success.

Said Slavaticki: “It was incredible to see the support of so many people reaching out and volunteering, and thousands of people coming to get the masks from all walks of life,” including senior citizens, doctors, nurses and even first responders.

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