Shabbat ShalomJuly 7th, 2017 - Yolande Wijtenburg
In this week’s parsha, we find the Israelites camped right outside of Moab, causing Balak, the King of Moab, to fear that they will “eat up everything around us.” So Balak sends for Balaam, a known prophet from Pethor, to come and curse the Israelites. This, he hopes, will weaken the Israelites enough so Balak could wage war and drive them away.
Balaam agrees to come to Moab, but warns Balak that whatever comes from his lips will be directed by God. And indeed, when Balaam tries multiple times to curse the Children of Israel, blessings come flowing off his tongue.
One of these times, Balaam looks over the great assembly of Israelites and is struck by how the community is arranged to promote respect and harmony, and says, “How goodly are your tents, O Jacob, your dwelling places, O Israel! They extend like streams, like gardens by the river, like aloes which the Lord planted, like cedars by the water. (Numbers 24:5-6).
These words, which have become a prominent passage on the walls of our synagogues, could very well be describing the Jewish community of Broward County. Not only are we blessed with the physical beauty of waterways, gardens and aloe, we are also worthy of being blessed for all the tzedakah we provide to the less fortunate among us.
Approximately 4400 Jews in Broward County live below the poverty line, according to the Jewish Federation’s recent demographic study, and 1800 households report they don’t have enough to eat. We usually don’t get to see these people as they tend to live in the shadows of society. But they are there.
And so are the Jewish Federation and Goodman Jewish Family Services.
Through of the generous support of Jewish Federation, Goodman JFS puts boots on the ground to care for, and provide emergency financial assistance to, the poor, elderly, and abused among us. We can also provide affordable counseling services, geriatric care management, food to the hungry (via The Cupboard, our new kosher food pantry), and life planning and referrals to families with adult children with developmental disabilities.
And thanks to a generous grant from the Claims Conference, Goodman JFS and Jewish Family Home Care provides in home care and emergency financial assistance to 930 Holocaust Survivors to ensure they can live independently in their own homes with hope, dignity and joy.
“I fell behind due to a special diet needed for my diabetes…and I became hungry the last week of each month,” one woman recently told us. “ So I bought the food I needed, leaving me behind on my FPL bill. I have to utilize coupons to budget in the FPL bill and be more conservative with energy. And with the help of Goodman Jewish Family Services I am now caught up to date.”
How “goodly are our tents” in Broward, and how wonderful is our community that has the wherewithal and the commitment to help those in need.
Jacob Schreiber, CEO, Goodman JFS