Photo by Jeff Karg/ Jewish Standard
Helping Hands -- Sheltering people of Rockland County who are homeless.
In Pirke Avot we read:
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai asked: What is the right path for one to take?
• Rabbi Eliezer says: A good eye.
• Rabbi Joshua says: A good friend.
• Rabbi Yose says: A good neighbor.
• Rabbi Simeon says: Foresight.
• Rabbi Elazar says: A good heart.
Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai then said: I prefer the words of Elarzar ben Arach, for his words include all of yours.
At the OJC, we also prefer the words of Yochanan ben Zakkai! Encompassed here in these words of Jewish text are all the reasons that we are proud to havebeen a partner in the Interfaith Coalition for the Homeless of Rockland County since its very inception.
Through the cold weather of fall, winter, and early spring, we offer a hot meal and overnight shelter in our synagogue building to homeless people of our county. Rotating with other synagogues, churches and mosques in Rockland, we host up to eight nights per season.
We at OJC organize our dozens of volunteers of all ages (pre-teens to elders) to shop, cook gourmet meals (soup to nuts!), set up rooms for the overnight, greet our guests, serve a hot meal and visit with them as they settle in for the night.
As Jews, we cannot turn away from the problem of people in need of the basics – food, shelter, warmth. We need to have a good eye – one that sees clearly where there are needs. We must be good friends and neighbors. We must have the foresight to know the ultimate truth: Homeless people are not "Them" -- they are us. We must consistently and continually count our blessings, and in so doing, remember the mitzvot of hachnassat orachim (welcoming guests) and pikuach nefesh (saving lives.) But as Rabbi Elazar says, most of all, we must have a good heart.