In a challenging time like this, when all we need is encouragement and higher spirits, Chabad of Greenwich sought to reach out to the Jewish community.
Schneur Deren, from Chabad of Greenwich, said their center hatched with an idea three weeks ago.
“We all know that COVID has had an impact on everyone’s life, it’s a very tough time for all of us,” said Deren, whose parents Rabbi Yossi and Maryashie Deren are the directors of Chabad Lubavitch in town. “But during this time, there are less outer distractions, we have more time to spend with each other and our family.
“That’s Shabbat, a time when we turn off all our connection to the world, no phones, no TV — it is a time to rest from a busy week. God gave us this gift of rest for a reasons, lets go for it.
So we came up with this idea, of distributing Shabbat-to-go bags.”
The Shabbat Shalom bag includes two loaves of Challah bread, a Kiddush cup, a bottle of grape juice, two Shabbat candles, a scroll providing inspiring information for the week, a Shabbat dinner guide, a charity box and treats for the kids.
Deren said the candles are especially significant — this Mitzvah is for women and girls.
“A candle can shine very far, they light up our homes and can light up the world,” Deren said. “Women and girls have a great influence about what goes on in the home and family, so we encouraged women and girls to light them.”
2 weeks ago, Chabad sent Shabbat bags to 50 families and saw that number grow to 500 families this past week.
Their volunteers set up a curbside contactless pick up station at the Chabad center for over 30 families throughout friday.
“The next day, we received an email from a member of our community, overjoyed on how he loved the Shabbat bag so much, saying he wants 500 families to have that Shabbat experience on his own expense” and from there #Shabba500 was born. They delaying no time and by the next Tuesday volunteers wearing gloves and masks had come to the center to start packing all 500 bags.
“By Thursday afternoon we already delivered 200 bags in the community, with emails and replies of appreciation poring in from all those who received.”
“Thank you so much for our beautiful Shabbat Bag! David said your son dropped it off. Such a nice gesture during such a chaotic time. We all thank you and will enjoy the Challah and lighting the candles tomorrow evening. Please thank the Rabbi as well.
We hope you and your whole family are doing as best as can be expected.
Shabbat Shalom and thank you again.
“On Friday, someone called saying they saw a news story on TV about the Shabbat campaign and that they would love to volunteer in the deliveries”, which took place all day around the town and finished right before Shabbat after giving the last couple bags to Jewish healthcare workers in appreciation for their sacrifice on the front lines”
Those who signed up then participated in a pre-Shabbat Zoom event with the Greenwich community and shared their Shabbat table on social media with #Shabbat500.
“Hi Rabbis, and Rebbetzins,
Thank you and your families for the lovely Shabbat bag. That was a thoughtful gesture and a nice treat!
We didn’t get to the doorbell quickly enough to say thank you to the kind person who delivered it to us, so please extend our gratitude to your delivery team.
We miss you all and hope we can all meet together soon.
The Shabbat-to-Go bag was delivered Friday morning and was quite surprising – – filled with so much more than we were expecting! Thank you very much! We ate one of the delicious challahs that evening and with the other we made French Toast on Mother’s Day — only we called it Jewish Toast. I was very glad to receive the instructions for lighting the Sabbath candles. Lighting them made me feel very close to my mother who died in 1991.