Students of Drexel University in Philadelphia have rallied to help a Chabad couple who provides kosher meals for them after a kitchen pipe recently burst. The Chabad house caters daily dinners for about 25 students as well as home-cooked meals for larger groups on Shabbat and special events.
It is the only place where Drexel students can get daily kosher meals. Drexel Hillel currently does not have the facilities to offer such a plan, according to a Hillel student representative.
So it was more than a matter of maintenance woes when Rabbi Chaim Goldstein, 28, and his wife, Moussia, 25, returned from an extended visit with relatives in Texas a couple of weeks ago to the home that doubles as their residence and the hub of Chabad programming.
“We walked into the house and I heard rushing water,” Moussia Goldstein recalled. “It was flooded for days.”
Despite the extensive water damage, Moussia Goldstein said, they decided they had to find a way to continue preparing kosher meals for the students who rely on them.
“It’s difficult, but it’s life,” said Goldstein, who does the bulk of the cooking with her 2-year-old daughter beside her. “Kids need to eat no matter what’s going on — as long as they need us, we’ll be around.”
Since it will take time to fix and remodel the kitchen, the couple converted a tiny upstairs kitchenette used for rare dairy meals into their main meat kitchen.
“It’s taken a lot of adapting,” Goldstein said. “I’m using tables as counters, and I’m down to a few knives and a couple of forks.”
“They’ve had to cook for over a 100 people” for a Shabbat meal “using a single oven,” said David Tessler, a 19-year-old Drexel student from Virginia Beach, Va.
“It really adds up to a lot cooking,” Goldstein added.
The Goldsteins’ dedication — meals are free, though students and their families pay optional donations — spurred the students into action.
On March 3, they began a fundraising campaign with a goal of raising $20,000. They have already raised $500 and, according to Tessler, an anonymous donor has agreed to match $7,500 in donations dollar for dollar.
“We are a tight-knit group, a family of students working together,” Tessler said. “It’s a communal effort to help” the Goldsteins “because they help us out so much.”
Goldstein said that she and her husband have been floored by the students’ support.
“I don’t think it’s so common,” she said, “I thought it was incredible that this is what they want to do with their time and effort.”