500 Greenwich residents found a complete “Shabbos bag” at their doorsteps on Friday, enabling them to experience an authentic Shabbos, amid the Covid chaos.
By Anash.org reporter
In a challenging time like this, when all we need is encouragement and raised spirits, Chabad of Greenwich sought to reach out to the Jewish community and Rabbi Schneur Deren came up with a plan.
“We all know that COVID has had an impact on everyone’s life, it’s a very tough time for all of us,” said Deren, whose parents Rabbi Yossi and Maryashie Deren are the directors of Chabad Lubavitch in town. “But during this time, there are fewer external distractions – we have more time to spend with each other and our family.
“That’s Shabbat, a time when we turn off all our connection to the world, no phones, no TV — it is a time to rest from a busy week. God gave us this gift of rest for a reason, lets go for it. So we came up with this idea, of distributing Shabbat-to-go bags.”
The Shabbat Shalom bag includes two loaves of Challah , a Kiddush cup, a bottle of grape juice, two Shabbat candles, a scroll providing inspiring information for the week, a Shabbat dinner guide, a charity box and treats for the kids.
Deren said the candles are especially significant — this mitzvah is for women and girls. “Candles can shine very far, they light up our homes and can light up the world. Women and girls have a great influence about what goes on in the home and family, so we encouraged women and girls to light them.”
Two weeks ago, the shluchim sent Shabbat bags to 50 families and this week the number skyrocketed to 500!
Volunteers set up a curbside contactless pick up station at the Chabad center for over 30 families throughout friday. The next day, the Derens received an email from a deeply appreciative member of the community, stating that he loved the Shabbat bag so much, he wanted 500 families to have that Shabbat experience at his own expense!
And so #Shabbat500 was born. The shluchim wasted no time and by the next Tuesday, masked and gloved volunteers had come to the center to start packing all 500 bags.
“By Thursday afternoon we had already delivered 200 bags,” Rabbi Deren said, “and messages of appreciation poured in from all those who received.”
“Thank you so much for our beautiful Shabbat Bag!” one recipient emailed. “Such a nice gesture during such a chaotic time. We all thank you and will enjoy the Challah and lighting the candles tomorrow evening.”
“The Shabbat-to-Go bag was quite surprising – filled with so much more than we were expecting,” messaged another grateful community member. “I was very glad to receive the instructions for lighting the Sabbath candles. Lighting them made me feel very close to my mother who died in 1991.”
On Friday, an individual contacted the Derens, saying they had seen a news story on TV about the Shabbat campaign and wanted to join the delivery team. The deliveries took all day, around town and finished right before Shabbat, upon giving the last couple bags to Jewish healthcare workers in appreciation for their sacrifice on the front lines.
Those who signed up then participated in a pre-Shabbat Zoom event with the Greenwich community and shared their Shabbat table on social media with #Shabbat500.