407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org

In this time of uncertainty, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure what to do. This is a great time to reach out to those in need and to make a difference in their lives. Both Jewish values of Tikkun Olam and Tzedakah tell us the importance of doing for others and guide us in times like this. The Central Florida Jewish community is stepping up to do more.

At the Federation, we have our Food Cart from the Heart campaign, raising money to purchase groceries for people in need. These are delivered to the homes of the people in need so that they have necessary food and dignity. In addition, we are partnering with JFS Orlando so that people who can’t get out to pick up food from the Pearlman Emergency Food Pantry can have the food brought to them. We are looking for volunteers to will pick up the packages from JFS and deliver them to the homes of those in need. This new Pantry Partners program is a great way to volunteer time to help ensure that nobody goes hungry.

The Jewish Pavilion is asking adults to write letters and children to make drawings to send to seniors. Homemade face masks are needed for seniors in elder-care facilities. You can learn how to make them here. In addition, the Pavilion is bringing a food truck to senior communities once a week to feed and thank their health care workers. The first truck was provided today from Toasted at the Brookdale Lake Orienta in Altamonte Springs. You can make a difference by joining with the Pavilion to help out seniors and recognize and support our health care workers. The Pavilion plans to continue the food truck service every Wednesday as long as funds are available. You can support this program by donating online.

Central Florida Hillel has launched a new initiative, Hillel Helps, where students interested in performing mitzvahs in the Orlando community can do so. Hillel Helps is a way for students to reach out to those in need, especially elderly residents of Kinneret in need of human contact at this difficult time. Please contact Jacqui Drazen McGrail for details.

Hillel Parents Roundtable is a new group offering support to parents of college students. More virtual meetings will be held in the coming weeks. If you are a parent of a college student and you or your student is in need of support or services, contact Liz Kalef, Central Florida Hillel Parent Liaison.

There is much more going on in our community. You can keep up with all the virtual offerings on our Federation website, which is updated daily. (Often several times per day).  

If you feel trapped in your home and missing the human connection we are all so accustomed to, I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunities that are out there. You’ll help yourself while helping others. I promise you that you will feel better by doing a mitzvah and making somebody else’s life just a little brighter.