A Rabbinical Student's Blog

Friday, February 09, 2007

My Class Helps Out For Hesed Week

Drew painting the ceiling and smiling at the camera at the Metro House on 18 December 2006During our last week of school prior to our intersemester break, 18-22 December, my class went to various places - in the Bronx for the first four days - and helped out as part of a special Hesed Week.
On Monday of that week, we went to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty's Metro House in Univ
ersity Heights and painted a couple of kitchens there.
On Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday mornings, we went to the Beth Jacob-Beth Miriam School in Pelham Parkway and sat and helped out with seventh- and eighth-grader boys.
Tuesday and Thursday afternoons found us at a couple of different apartment buildings where, although there used to be a much
greater Jewish population in them, there still is a significant number of Jews. We helped entertain residents there with songs and schmoozing, along with elementary schoolchildren on Tuesday.
On Wednesday afternoon, we were at the Bronx Community's annual Hanukkah celebration, helping to distribute beverages, latkes, and sufganyot (jelly donuts). Those four days of experiencing the Bronx were very interesting to me to see how little is remaining of Jewish life there, whereas only 50-60 years ago, it would have been quite the scene of abundant Jewish life. It was s
ad to hear that there used to be dozens of kosher butchers in the Pelham Parkway area and now there's only one kosher store around. Apparently, aside from the Riverdale section of the Bronx, the Bronx has only several little enclaves of Jewish life, as many Jews have left the Bronx in the last several decades in favor of the suburbs. The Bronx community Hanukkah celebration on Wednesday further helped in giving me a better sense of a picture as to what it used to be.
Lastly, on Friday, we went to a place on the Upper East side of Manhattan to work with some developmentally disabled persons.
The main point of this week was to get us a better [and hands-on] sense to what is out there for our future congregations to be able to do. I think we did get some of that.

To see more pictures and short video clips, click here.

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