Just before Passover every year, Jewish communities offer their members the opportunity to buy packages of matzo for the holidays. There are no matzo bakeries in Germany, and so the flat, unleavened bread is imported from abroad.
Mannheim, which is not far from the French border, typically gets its matzo from the Heumann company in Alsace.
This year, because of the coronavirus, older community members are supposed to leave their homes as little as possible. That's why the community set up a “Matzo-Mobile” service. And I had the good luck to be along for the ride as a volunteer.
Here's how the Matzo-Mobile initiative worked:
1) First, lists with seniors' contact information were generated. Then the Passover packages and gifts were prepared. Raisa Khersonska took center stage. As the coordinator for seniors in the Jewish Community of Mannheim, she is in contact with all of the older members. She prepared the bags and packages and arranged them by district.
2) Every volunteer was assigned a car with Passover packages and one or more city districts. I took my cargo and loaded it into my car.
3) Then the tour starts! I met nearly all of the recipients personally at their homes. Either I handed them the packages wearing plastic gloves and a mask, or I placed them in front of the door. The feedback was always incredible: they were all happy and very thankful for the service.
After a few hours, I had delivered all of the packages and drove home. Later I spoke with other volunteers about the initiative. We agreed that it was a great feeling to support others in these difficult times, showing that we're all in this together.
Le Shana Haba’a Be Yerushalayim—and hopefully together again soon as a community!
David Studniberg (2020), Across Mannheim in the Matzo-Mobile. How Older Community Members Are Being Supported at Passover during the Corona Crisis.
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