By Sarah Lessing
Since Covid-19 began impacting our communities, it has affected many families in different ways. Addressing these issues requires a flexible response, personalized to the needs of the individual. Rabbi Chanoch and Mushka Wineberg, who opened the Chabad of Westville a little over a year ago, answered the call, providing unconditional support to the local Jewish community. The Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation’s COVID-19 / Maimonides Response Fund became a crucial source of assistance, allowing them to care of those who found themselves in a financial emergency.
Working Hand-in-Hand to Support Jews
Thanks to the aid provided by the fund, getting help to those who need it most has been a smooth process. When approached by a community member in need, it was very simple to say “yes,” Rabbi Wineberg recalled. “We spoke over the phone and we made arrangements. A week and a half later our community member had the money, it was amazing.”
The COVID-19 / Maimonides Response Fund offers direct assistance, for critical human needs such as rent, food, mental health and social services, to individuals and families in need in the Greater New Haven area. Local rabbis help channel this assistance since often community members feel more comfortable to turn to them when they need guidance and help. The program preserves anonymity and integrity for anyone who reaches out for help. The program has also provided emergency grants to local Jewish organizations to allow them to provide for critical human needs.
“The support goes through the community rabbi so it feels closer and more confidential. The money travels from the Jewish Federation/Jewish Foundation’s account to the rabbi who passes it directly to the individual in order to preserve all confidentiality. It was very efficient,” Rabbi Wineberg stated appreciatively.
Beyond the fundamental mitzvah (commandment, good deed) to help someone in distress, the COVID-19 / Maimonides Response Fund is, for Rabbi Wineberg, a beautiful and inspiring way to bring different organizations together to work hand-in-hand with one unique goal: helping a Jew in need. It is a great benefit to our community that we have larger organizations like the Federation and Foundation, who provide us with resources, allowing us to better assist those in need. “Our value is in the personal connections we have with the families in Westville, which plays a big role in providing the appropriate assistance for them,” says Rabbi Wineberg. He was also able to refer another Chabad House in the area to the program, which saw a substantial impact on its own community.
“It helped them simply because somebody was here to give support, had their back, and was able to relieve the stress and pressure that comes along with being stuck at home, not being able to have the daily routine. It helped them feel like they were able to manage. Additionally, it helped provide for the basics they were not able to keep up with and they were able then to be present for the family members who rely on them,” Rabbi Wineberg reported.