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April 23, 2020 1:24 pm

Jewish Soup Kitchen, Brooklyn Judaica Store Offer Free Groceries to Parents Widowed by Coronavirus

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

Healthcare workers wheel the bodies of deceased people from the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, New York, April 4, 2020. Photo Reuters / Andrew Kelly / File.

The Borough Park, New York, branch of the Jewish non-profit soup kitchen and food pantry Masbia partnered with the owner of a local Judaica bookstore to launch on Wednesday an initiative to support newly-widowed parents whose spouses died from the coronavirus.

Any living spouse with children of a breadwinner who was a victim of COVID-19 since Purim will have a free “tap” in a local Borough Park grocery store until Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year that begins this year on September 18.

Masbia is also seeking sponsors to expand the project into other neighborhoods, and already found someone who is willing to sponsor families in the Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood of Queens.

“I am a cancer survivor who has made it my life’s mission to assist and support cancer patients and their families,” said Mordy Getz, owner of the Borough Park New Eichler’s Judaica store, which has teamed up with Masbia for the new initiative. “I have come to understand that covering the costs of basic groceries while a parent is ill or after their passing is an often overlooked struggle, groceries go a long way towards determining how well families cope during such a crisis.”

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He added, “In addition to my personal donations, I plan to recruit other philanthropists to help Masbia in this critical endeavor and hopefully have others follow our innovative project to alleviate the enormous material and emotional challenges these survivors are facing in the immediate future.”

Alexander Rapaport, executive director of the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network, said, “In general emergency food charities are considered supplemental, and have two dozen or so food items to take people for three to seven days. During the current outbreak, Masbia already stepped up to give people for more than a week’s worth of food moving away from supplemental to peoples only source. For those families, we felt that even more is needed, so with the help of Mordy from Eichler’s we launched this initiative.”

“By having the surviving spouse making one discreet call with no intermediaries — no matter how well-intentioned they are — involved, makes us able to preserve his or her dignity,” Rapaport explained. “Just one voicemail and a follow-up return phone call will put all wheels in motion in setting up an account. Even that short conversation makes the mother and I choke up and hold back tears.”

Masbia Soup Kitchen Network has seen an over 50-percent rise in new families joining its breadline every day since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, and has already distributed over $1,000,000 worth of food.

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