Good Neighbors

Jews Go Door To Door To Uplift Hundreds In Coronavirus Isolation

Fear around public health emergencies like the Coronavirus can bring out the worst in people, but it can also give us an opportunity to be kind at a time when others desperately need our caring.

Members of Chabad of Westchester and Pelham in New York recognized the need. They went house to house to help 100 Jewish families who are members of the Young Israel Synagogue in New Rochelle celebrate Purim. 400+ families who are members of the synagogue are under quarantine and weren't able to gather for what is normally a joyous community holiday.

Chabad members read scripture aloud on a porch, while quarantined residents listened from inside.Levi M. Groner Facebook

Observant Jews are obligated to hear the Hebrew book, the megillah, chanted aloud on Purim. Chabad representatives visited more than 100 of the quarantined homes to read the megillah outside on porches, even in backyards.

A quarantined couple (in costume for Purim) listen to a reading from their garage.Levi M. Groner Facebook

"All day, I had this sense of dread in my stomach," a resident told "Purim is my favorite holiday and how could one celebrate it inside their house with no joy whatsoever?"

Then Rabbi Levi Groner from Chabad of Pelham arrived with a group of volunteers. "Tonight as I sat in my kitchen and Rabbi Groner and a bochur stood outside my kitchen door, I had tears in my eyes as he started to read the megillah for me and my husband."

Chabad readers as seen from inside a quarantined family's house.Levi M. Groner Facebook

Some are describing The Young Israel congregation as the "epicenter" of Coronavirus containment. As Lohud reports, one of Young Israel's members became "gravely ill" with Coronavirus, and the number of cases in the community subsequently skyrocketed. That lead to quarantining of members of Young Israel who may have had contact with the sick man, and designation of a larger 1-mile radius "containment area" in New Rochelle.

The quarantined Jews weren't the only ones touched by the volunteer Purim readers. A community member messaged the Pelham group: "...we just received a call from our Irish Catholic neighbors. They called to tell us how inspired they were last night by the Chabad boys. They could hear it from their window at 11:30 pm!"

What a wonderful and uplifting way to make the burden of Coronavirus quarantine a little easier!

How can you start something good?

The thoughtfulness the Chabad group showed can be replicated in many ways.

Maybe you don't know someone with Coronavirus who needs your support. But what about elderly or shut-in neighbors in your community? A home cooked meal, a plate of cookies, stopping by to chat, or a note of encouragement will make them feel a lot less isolated. Check with your church or a local social service agency to find someone who could use your caring touch and #StartSomethingGood!

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