In last week’s edition of the Queens Jewish Link, I wrote about becoming proactive in responding to the speech by CUNY Law School graduate Fatima Mousa Mohammed. I did receive a copy of a letter that someone was sending to the executive director for the second department admission committee voicing his objection to Ms. Mohammed’s admission to the bar. I hope that there are many people who make the effort.
This week, I am going to write about two other areas where our actions can have an effect. The first concerns Shabsie Saphirstein, who was injured in a serious vehicle accident upstate. Many of us know him from his involvement as a columnist and photographer at the QJL. He is also involved in Queens Shmira. We have the ability to advocate that he should be given a r’fuah sh’leimah (a complete recovery). We can have him in our prayers or say special T’hilim or learn Torah or donate charity. His full name for t’filos is Shabsie ben Pesha Rachel.
The second involves the organization Queens Jewish Community Council (QJCC), an organization that I have been involved with for almost 40 years during which I was president. The organization was formed in 1968 as a result of the attempt to place low-income housing in the middle of the Jewish community of Forest Hills. For the first time, the organization engaged in a 36-hour fundraiser, Raise the Jewish Voice in Queens, which finished Monday. However, it was extended in order to reach the goal of $100,000. Right now, QJCC is short. You can help QJCC reach the goal. The website is https://qjcc.org/donate. Alternatively, you can mail donations to the QJCC: 119-45 Union Turnpike, Forest Hills, NY 11375.
QJCC is a multifaceted organization. QJCC is a government repository for resources to work with Queens synagogues and Jewish organizations to provide Jewish cultural programing. The most well-known is the Jewish Music under the Stars concert held at Cunningham Park in August. There are other events for which QJCC partners with organizations as diverse as Chabad, Chazaq, Forest Hills Jewish Center, Free Synagogue of Flushing, Ohr Natan, and the Young Israel.
QJCC is in constant contact with Queens legislators to express concerns of the Queens Jewish community. QJCC works with Queens legislators and national organizations to provide programming against anti-Semitism and crime. QJCC compiles and circulates press releases of issues of communal concern. QJCC shares relevant information from government and from not-for-profits with the Queens Jewish community. QJCC provides a kosher food pantry all Queens synagogues and residents are welcome to use. QJCC provides home-delivered kosher meals to people with mobility issues, a program that has not had specific funding for years; QJCC has a local insurance navigator providing assistance in accessing Affordable Care Act. The need to obtain insurance through the Affordable Care Act is not limited to the poor. Many people who are now considered independent contractors or work for a company that does not provide insurance need someone to help them obtain insurance. QJCC has caseworkers to assist clients with accessing SNAP benefits, housing, immigration issues, and other governmental benefits.
QJCC is also unique in that the board consists of Jews who are diverse geographically and in level of Jewish observance. This also applies to those whom we help. QJCC is a paradigm of the idea that all Jews are responsible for each other. If we cannot help our own, then how can we ask anyone outside our community to help us?
When it relates to situations like with Shabsie, Mohammed, or Queens Jewish Community Council, there is strength in numbers. One person’s involvement may make a difference. You can be the person.