By Deb Silverthorn
In the midst of record low sub-freezing temperatures this week and 5-inches of snow in some areas, hearts have warmed to help.
Throughout the area, members of the Jewish community opened their doors, shared generators and connected through social media.
“We’re here for moments like this when we are needed to be here,” said Chaim Goldfeder, owner of the Kosher Palate, which provided hot meals and coffee to those in need. Goldfeder is meeting with the Jewish Federation and others to determine how to move beyond today if the need continues. “Whatever we can do, and however we can help we will.”
From 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 17, meals from Kosher Palate will be served at Congregation Shaare Tefilla (6131 Churchill Way) at DATA in Plano (3251 Independence Pkwy.), Sephardic Torah Center (6715 Levelland Road),as well as at Kosher Palate (7989 Belt Line Road, Ste. 154). At deadline, only Fino! and Milk and Honey, along with Kosher Palate, are the only kosher restaurants open.
“All sorts of good, hot food — all free of charge and if anyone needs a place to stay we have heat,” said DATA of Plano’s Rabbi Nesanya Zakon. “We have a neighbor from Brooklyn, he actually lives in New York but has opened his Plano home to anyone in need and we have families coming through. Lots of hosting going on and social distancing is possible as we try to keep people healthy and warm.”
“Kosher Palate is always there to react and fortunately, while many of our stores and restaurants are closed, they are able to provide around the community,” said Dallas Kosher Executive Director Meira Naor.
Rabbi Sholey Klein and his wife, Chana, have opened their doors to 30 people during the day and for meals and 21 guests spent the night. David Geldman, Dallas Kosher’s office manager and a guest of the Klein’s made Chinese food for dinner and pizza for lunch. While COVID-19 is a concern, everyone at the Klein’s has already had and recovered from the disease.
With water pipes bursting around town, people out of firewood, and needing placement with power, the Dallas Jewish Moms Facebook page has opened up with recommendations to fulfill almost any need. People are offering to shop for others, to open their homes, and requesting or suggesting vendors for almost any service one can imagine.
“Scrolling through Facebook, it is incredible how many people need so many kinds of help,” said Jolene Risch, one of many who opened their homes to those in need. “To see that people need help — and there’s no rhyme or reason for who has power and who doesn’t —-you can’t help but want to provide. Someone needed a warm place and I had room.”
Throughout the area, there are streets that have one side of the block with disrupted service, while the other is untouched. Neighbors are providing food, rooms, electrical outlets for charging phones and computers.
Baruch Shawel, founder of Hatzalah of Dallas Ambulance service and the newly formed Texas Chaverim emergency response unit, has been on the road responding to dead car batteries, flat tires and people locked out of their cars. When he heard from someone across the country that they had a son in Dallas, without electricity or food, Shawel found him and arranged for kosher meals and a place to stay. On Monday, two members of Hatzalah responded to a man who fell and broke his ankle.
“We are busy, and on the road and hope people will be safe and not go out unless it is absolutely necessary,” said Shawel.
Shawel’s list of tips for safety include advising not to drive unless necessary, avoiding falls by walking where snow has melted and to use space heaters with caution. Prepare for outages, with flashlights, food and water; and when using fireplaces, be sure vents are clear.
The Chabads of North Texas, like most congregations, have been making well-check calls and connecting however possible to their communities. Mushkie Kesselman of Chabad of Frisco has a volunteer base with trucks offering to help anyone in need and has opened her home to anyone needing a warm place to stay. Rabbi Levi Gurevitch, of Chabad of Southlake, his power uninterrupted, says “we are in touch with people and letting them know that we are available to help in any way we can.”
Chabad of Plano has created an internet café with coffee and light food service for community members and dinner will be served to eat onsite, socially distanced, or available to go Tuesday.
Jewish Family Service, with its office closed, has its staff working remotely to ensure no one is hungry or cold.
“We are getting many calls and connecting to as many resources as we have available to us, assisting seniors and families without power to warming centers or other sites,” said JFS CEO Cathy Barker. “There won’t be a food distribution this week but we are giving out grocery store gift cards. Our case managers are on for current clients and in-take for those new to need. Our building is closed but, as always, JFS is here finding ways to serve.”
Dallas City Councilwoman Cara Mendelsohn said: “This has brought out the best in people but so many are cold and enduring hardships.” She picked up her parents at Legacy Willow Bend, as the facility did not have power as of this afternoon.
“Our city workers are on 24/7, doing extraordinary work and our community is coming through.”
For information, visit DJM/Dallas Jewish Moms on Facebook. Reserve a spot at Chabad of Plano by texting 214-403-1362. Reach Hatzalah of Dallas at 214-814-0109, and Jewish Family Service at 972-437-9950.