NCFJE Awards Dinner: Saying a Virtual L’chaim

The NCFJE is known for its elegant events. The Annual Awards Dinner, celebrating the accomplishments of one of Chabad’s first institutions in the US, is known to bring together a slew of dignitaries from the philanthropic, political and nonprofit sectors.

With COVID-19 putting an end to large gatherings in New York City the NCFJE found a way to connect with its community of friends and supporters. Being unable to act as host, the organization delivered special boxes full with delicacies that would’ve normally been at the dinner’s Viennese Table–together with a small bottle of vodka. With these foods on hand, the guests are invited to say l’chayim with NCFJE Chairman Rabbi Shea Hecht, via video presentation showcasing the organization’s work in the midst of the pandemic.

The presentation highlights the organization’s COVID-19 response. The NCFJE, no stranger to crisis intervention, went into high gear providing food aid, clothing vouchers and cash assistance to families in need. The Released Time Program, the flagship program for 80 years, was reinvented to allow children to join weekly classes through videoconferencing, thereby allowing many homebound family members to be exposed to Jewish learning as well. The organization worked at a breakneck pace to temporarily relocate Camp Emunah to Pennsylvania in order to give a crucial respite to children who had spent months in lockdown. Toys for Hospitalized Children, which serves over 100 medical centers around metro NYC, the US and Israel, continued to supply those centers with toys and games for their young patients, and even helped with procuring valuable PPE during the onset of the pandemic.

Rabbi Hecht concludes the video expressing gratitude and blessings for their supporters and invites the viewer to join him for l’chayim.

The NCFJE was founded in 1940 by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, with the aim of providing Jewish outreach and education for the tens of thousands of Jewish children in the city’s public schools. Under the leadership of the late Rabbi Jacob J. Hecht, the NCFJE became an umbrella for Camp Emunah, Hadar HaTorah, the Ivy League Torah Study Program, Toys for Hospitalized Children, Machon Chana, Operation Survival and other programs.

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