Acts of Kindness

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Feeding the Hungry

As idyllic as Montclair can look and feel to first-time visitors, longtime residents know our town and our area of Essex County are scarcely immune to the social problems that challenge even the biggest cities. Putting food on the table is a year-round struggle for too many of our neighbors.

Of course, one would be too many.

Feeding the hungry is among the most basic examples of gemilut hassadim (acts of loving kindness) Jews can perform.  Thankfully, there are a number of organizations working devotedly to eradicate hunger from our community, and many Shomrei Emunah’s members are among the most dedicated participants in these efforts. 

Every Tuesday night, from 6:30-8:00 p.m., September through June, Shomrei Emunah opens its doors to provide a hot, nourishing meal for approximately twenty guests in need. We do this as part the Carol Starr MESH Cafe at Shomrei, (part of Montclair Emergency Services for the Homeless), a joint project of more than a dozen churches and synagogues in the Montclair area. We invite you to help us with this important and rewarding project -- by cooking, serving, cleaning up, organizing, or through contributions to our Carol Starr MESH Cafe supply fund. For more information, view the MESH CAFÉ Handbook, or contact Lynne Kurzweil ( or Aileen Grossberg (

The Human Needs Food Pantry, established in 1982, distributes meat, fruit, vegetables and non-perishables on Tuesdays and Thursdays, much of it received from donor programs coordinated by the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

In recent years, Shomrei teenagers have helped put together packages of food at Thanksgiving for clients of the Human Needs Food Pantry. In addition, as part of Project Isaiah, a nationwide program under the auspices of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Shomrei has made the pantry the beneficiary of our Kol Nidre food drive. (Money raised nationally through Project Isaiah goes to Mazon: A Jewish Response to Hunger.)

Information: Deanna S. London, the pantry’s longtime executive director and a Shomrei member,

Shomrei members also may volunteer locally at Toni’s Kitchen, a wonderful food ministry at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Montclair. The kitchen welcomes its guests Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays at noon for a full meal, no questions asked. Shomrei also sometimes donates leftovers from our kiddush meals to Toni’s Kitchen, and those sponsoring a Kiddush are always welcome to request that this be done.

Information: Barbara Gollob,

A bit farther from home, Shomrei Emunah members occasionally volunteer with other organizations fighting hunger. The Bobrow Family Kosher Food Pantry, at Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange, puts together supplemental food packages once a month for hundreds of needy people. Begun years ago to serve a sudden wave of Soviet Jewish immigrants, today the pantry mainly serves elderly and poor residents of the South Orange area.

The Hillside headquarters of the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, meanwhile, is the clearinghouse in Essex County for all donations of foodstuffs and toiletries, many of it government surplus, that will ultimately reach up to 900,000 low-income people across the state. Sorting and bagging is usually done there on Saturdays, but Shomrei members periodically arrange a Sunday appointment.

Information: Regina Brab,