Boca's Hands on Tzedakah helps people affected by Hurricane Michael

Boca Raton's Jewish community has responded to the needs of people in Florida's panhandle who were affected by Hurricane Michael’s recent devastation there.

The Boca Raton-based charity Hands on Tzedakah has been purchasing items from lists supplied by governmental organizations to have delivered to distribution centers in areas ravaged by the storm. Also, funding for shipments, as well as future shipments, of food and supplies that have been sent to Florida's battered Gulf coast to feed everyone of all ages affected by the recent hurricane are coming from the proceeds of two $25,000 challenge grants made by HOT to congregants of B’nai Torah Congregation and Temple Beth El, both in Boca Raton, as well as a $10,000 challenge grant that was immediately met by the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County.

So far at press time, more than 215,000 meals, including at least 21 pallets of cereal for breakfast with 100,800 servings and 20 pallets of assorted pop top meals filled with protein for proper nutrition for lunch providing 115,200 servings, have already been sent to Florida's panhandle. Summer Faerman, director of B'nai Torah's Tzedakah, Learning, and Chesed program who is coordinating this effort, said that in addition to the pallets of nonperishable food, there is perishable food coming from New York going to the Florida panhandle.

"There are 8,927 pounds of assorted meats and cheeses, so people can have protein filled meals that are not coming from cans.These products will be nourishing a minimum of 40,000 people of all ages in the Florida panhandle."

Faerman continued, "We will also be continuing our efforts to provide needed supplies to the people suffering, following the government officials telling us exactly what to purchase so there is no waste in this effort."

Faerman has been in constant contact with the state government and local officials and has also received contributions from her corporate partners that have been shipped and received by those in need in an effort to insure there is never a lapse in food. One hundred percent of contributions to HOT have been used for food or other essentials for people suffering from Michael's destruction.

Ron Gallatin, president/treasurer of HOT's board, said the Boca Raton Jewish community's efforts in this cause has been "extraordinary."

"We did a similar effort last year [with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria] and what we find, and perhaps it's partially due to the fact that we live in South Florida and we face the risk of these dangerous storms every year, is that people give to these efforts and it never ceases to amaze us."

Rabbi Greg Weisman of Temple Beth El, described HOT as a "fantastic communal organization."

"The amount of work that they do locally and across the states to really impact the lives of people who are in need is incredible."

Faerman noted, regarding the Jewish values exemplified through this effort, "With our values system, you are to help those who are in need, just the same as if you are in need, you would want someone to help you."

"Our values system is to help those in need and not ask for anything in return. The highest form of giving is to give anonymously and make sure people are taken care of, and that's what we do."

Donations can be sent to Hands on Tzedakah, 2901 Clint Moore Road #318, Boca Raton, FL 33496, or at Call 561-922-7574 for more information. or @serge0514