During the COVID-19 epidemic, Jewish communities like the one I live in have been hit hard with victims of the coronavirus.
Now, as a congressional candidate, I have received many calls from the local press regarding the local neighborhoods.
There have been many of the frontlines early on, and continuing their efforts before, during and immediately after the Passover holiday as we look forward to Shavuot. Their efforts are not restricted to Jews, and many, including those healthy, benefit from their efforts.
They deserve more than a thank you. They represent Jews at their best. They don’t seek public attention. They do their mitzvahs as a labor of love and are the ones always reaching out to help a friend or stranger.
Rachel Shnay is no stranger to fighting for what she believes and takes on the tasks when others say it can’t be done. She started the petition against New York University when the school hosted an anti-Semite guest at a graduation ceremony. She is a chair of the Young Leadership – American Society for Yad Vashem. She also runs successful jewelry and baking businesses.
We recently spoke about “Feeding Our Gems”
What made you decide to step up and take a leadership role in helping out those in need during the coronavirus situation?
I started to send kosher food to one of my closest friends who has been working on the COVID frontlines at Mount Sinai. I would post pictures of how happy she was and people kept asking me how they could get involved. I realized that I have an opportunity to use my platform (@rachieshnay) to organize meals to be delivered to entire hospital units, all while supporting local kosher establishments. Since I have a jewelry business and an active business instagram account, I decided to call this initiative “Feed Our Gems,” because our healthcare heroes are our most treasured gems risking their lives and isolating themselves from their families for months- the least we could do is show our support and love and make sure they are well fed. They are exhausted, depleted and cannot worry where there next meal will come from, especially if they are Kosher, many of them have just been eating vending machine snacks that give them little energy. I also wanted to ensure that our kosher establishments would have some business coming in to support their staff and ensure that they are stay open. Every dollar donated is a win win for everyone, there is zero degree of separation and each dollar helps our kosher establishments AND feed our heroes. Many hospitals were receiving tons of food donations but very few kosher ones. How it works- a healthcare worker reaches out to me and tells me when and where they want food, I order from a kosher restaurant enough to feed 20+ healthcare workers in their unit- we do not discriminate whether they are Jewish or not Jewish, Kosher or not Kosher, we want everyone to have a delicious warm meal! Feed our Gems is meant to be a kiddish Hashem to show that despite many harsh accusations made against Jewish communities during this time, Jewish people care about feeding and caring for EVERYONE, zero discrimination. So far, just from my instagram followers, in only TWO WEEKS I have raised $25K and sent out over 60 meals feeding 1200+ doctors, nurses and anyone who’s hungry on the frontlines!
I have not said no to anyone and whoever reaches out gets a hot meal delivered not only for themselves but for their entire unit (and they choose whether or not they want dairy or meat!), we deliver to ANY hospital in the country, as long as a kosher restaurant delivers to them! So far we have sent to over 40 different hospitals and nursing homes in New York (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island…) New Jersey, Connecticut, and even as far as Boston!…it has been so humbling and beautiful to see how the community has come together and it has been truly my pleasure to organize it all- not to mention, another full time job that is keeping me VERY busy, Baruch HaShem! The doctors and nurses are so so so incredibly appreciative and send the most heartfelt texts of gratitude and makes it all worth it! It is the LEAST we can all do from the safety and comfort of our couches when they are risking their lives on the frontlines every day! And none of this would be possible without the 250 donors that have so generously donated! All businesses should take every opportunity to show their support for our healthcare heroes in any way that they can, I am also sending complimentary sunflower masks included in all my jewelry orders to spread some sunshine and make sure everyone stays safe in addition to donating a percentage of my sales to support Feed Our Gems, of course!.
Have you been concerned about your own health?
Yes, since I live in NYC, the Corona epicenter of the world, it is definitely daunting and eerie to hear ambulance sirens all day and see hundreds of people suffer and die on a daily basis. My grandfather, who is 94 and an Auschwitz survivor, lives in our building so we are extra extra careful with social distancing and not going to any enclosed spaces like supermarkets…I have also loved watching how our city has come together- every night at 7 PM we go to our windows/balconies and scream and bang our pots to show our love and appreciation for our healthcare workers. We have been doing it for over two months straight and never miss a night, it still brings tears to my eyes to see my neighbors behind their windows as we wave and blow kisses to each other, even if we never met, because we are all in this together and stay strong for each other. I am looking forward to the day where I can actually meet them in person on the street and we can reminisce about our nightly 7 PM routine! I make sure to post it every night so that the doctors and nurses can watch and see how grateful we are for them. My love for my city has only strengthened during this time and I feel so lucky to be a New Yorker.
Have you known anyone ill or who has died from COVID-19?
Yes, unfortunately, grandparents of friends have passed away and some community members are still hospitalized and critical.
People can help sponsor meals and reach Rachel at:
Cindy Grosz is the Republican and Conservative congressional candidates running in NY-04, including the communities of The Five Towns, Merrick-Bellmore, Long Beach, Oceanside and West Hempstead. She is a longtime activist for many causes and an Advisor for the National Diversity Coalition for Trump. www.cindygrosz.com. firstname.lastname@example.org