TheJewishStar: Midreshet Shalhevet puts olam chesed yibaneh to work

Chazal tell us that olam chesed yibaneh (the world was built through chesed).

Midreshet Shalhevet strongly believes that it is important to give to those less fortunate than ourselves. The school’s chesed program includes trips to local nursing homes, toy drives, tzedakah fundraisers, Tomchei Shabbos activities, pairing with special needs children, and more. 

In honor of Rosh Chodesh Kislev, and with Chanukah upon us, Midreshet Shalhevet dedicated some class time to giving back. A schoolwide chesed trip took place, not only to emphasize the school’s commitment to chesed, but also to serve as an opportunity to further grade bonding.

The ninth grade volunteered at Masbia, soup kitchen and food pantry that provides meals to hundreds of people in desperate need of food distributes bags of groceries to those with not enough at home.

Masbia serves free, delicious meals for these people in a “restaurant,” with volunteer waiters serving each person with respect and dignity. The Midreshet Shalhevet girls learned about all the programs Masbia provides and helped package the weekly grocery bags.

“It was such a good feeling to know we helped out, and that so many people would get food because of it,” said freshman Arielle Saffran of West Hempstead.

The sophomores assisted the amazing staff at Bobbie’s Place, a store unlike any other. They have selection and assortment, customer service and a smile, but there is one key difference. At Bobbie’s Place, those facing economic stress can shop stress free because Bobbie’s Place is free.

The Midreshet Shalhevet girls sorted, organized and labeled the clothing to make the shopping experience more enjoyable. “It was so eye opening,” said Maayan Sandowski of Woodmere.

Eliana Hirsch of West Hempstead reflected that “there are so many ways of doing chesed. It was really inspirational to see this one.”

Bobbie’s Place is a charity, but they aren’t in the business of giving out handouts, they are in the business of making people feel like the people they are, despite their economic stature. The girls really took this message home with them. “It was so moving to be able to do this chesed for these people,” said Nava Yastrab of Woodmere.

The 11th and 12th grades travelled to the historic Silver Lake Cemetery on Staten Island, where they performed chesed shel emet by helping to restore the cemetery. While in poor condition both physically and financially, Silver Lake Cemetery is rich in history, telling the tale of Jewish immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Miri Dubrow of Brooklyn and Rebecca Wein of West Hempstead shared that they really felt they were doing a true chesed that could never be repaid, and got a much greater understanding of why it is chesed shel emet.

The cemetery was a busy place from when it opened in 1893 until it was filled by 1909, with about 1,000 burials per year, at least half of them for infants and children. Now, the cemetery is not active and the graves are so old that very few people visit. The grounds are only requested to be opened to family around 10 times per year. The Midreshet Shalhevet juniors and seniors volunteered a few hours of time and collected over 50 bags of leaves and debris from the ground, helping the effort to keep the cemetery respectful to the 13,000 neshamot resting there.

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