Helping Hands

Posted on May 28, 2020

Our Helping Hands initiative continues to grow in strength and in need, as the coronavirus quarantine stretches on. The initiative was launched to ensure the well-being and safety of our senior and at-risk congregants, and by every measure, it’s making a difference in many lives, in many ways. Said one congregant, “I’m alone in my house, but with my temple, I’m never alone.”

It comes as no surprise that Helping Hands is flush with volunteers—we now number nearly 90! Volunteers, along with board members and the Membership Committee, have been calling congregants to check in with them. One of the beautiful byproducts of these calls are the intergenerational connections being made. Many congregants say they look forward to the day they can return to TBE to meet—in person—those they’ve gotten to know over the telephone.

Helping Hands volunteer Evan Lerner with Passover bags for distribution.

Volunteers continue to make grocery store runs for congregants for whom leaving the house is not an option. Volunteers also delivered dinners donated by Stage House Tavern in Somerset. The meals were brought to us by Steve Katz, a friend of TBE. During Passover, the meals were delivered to IHN. To date, volunteers are making regular grocery runs for 13 members (with more than 40 trips to stores), and have delivered 168 dinners.

Prior to Passover, volunteers distributed 35 “Pesach packages” consisting of a seder plate, a box of matzoh, a haggadah, and a holiday greeting card. A special thank you to Roxanne Levinston and Evan Lerner for leading the effort to make this year’s holiday just a little less unconventional.

Iris sewing masks at the Hirsch home.

Helping Hands volunteers are also distributing masks. With so many people presumed to be asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, Governor Murphy is requiring that masks be worn in all stores and when picking up food from restaurants. Many thanks to Julie, Iris, and Talia Hirsch, Kathy Shanklin, Andrea Bradley, Vicki Schwartz, and Andrea and Joy Auerbach who are making homemade masks, and to the Mask Squad, which is turning out an unprecedented number of masks daily. To date, we have provided 68 masks to our temple family.

Completed masks.



Our students are helping out as well. Hannah Lafargue’s eighth-grade class sent lovely letters to our seniors, which were greatly appreciated.

The Helping Hands initiative would not be the success it is without the many volunteers who are extraordinarily quick to pitch in when a request for help goes out. Thank you, also, to Robin Osman and the Brit K’hillah Task Force for heading up the initiative. And thank you to Amy Rubin for her endless support.

If you need a helping hand or if you would like to volunteer, please email

Originally published in the May-June 2020 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives.