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A sweet way for BBC House residents to start new year

Read this article on the Jewish Tribune

By Stuart Nulman

MONTREAL – The residents of B’nai Brith House in Montreal began their Rosh Hashanah holiday on a positive note, thanks to the kindness and generosity of several members of the B’nai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO).

On the Thursday before Rosh Hashanah, eight members of the B’nai Brith Girls (BBG) chapter L’Chaim gathered at B’nai Brith House around 5 p.m. to help pack and deliver 95 food baskets (one for each unit in the building) during the course of the late afternoon and early evening.

“This is the first year [we’ve put] together our own Rosh Hashanah food baskets for our residents,” said Eileen Katz, director of B’nai Brith House. “We were able to get the food for the baskets by raising money within the community.

“I got the idea from my daughter Dana, who needed a community service program for her BBG chapter. And for the members, this is a great way for them to perform some valuable community service.”

A mini-depot was set up in the SMART Healthy Aging Centre in the basement. The girls, along with Katz and Caryl Gold, regional director of Eastern Canada Region (ECR) of BBYO, first packed the baskets with 10 holiday food items (fresh baked challah, apples, a jar of honey, carrots, onions, a frozen chicken, gefilte fish, honey cake, eggs, and egg noodles, along with a Rosh Hashanah card), one item at a time. After each food item was placed in the baskets, Katz conducted a “quality control” inspection, to make sure that each item was placed carefully in the baskets, so that they would not get crushed or damaged during deliveries.

After a quick kosher pizza supper, the food baskets were ready for delivery to residents.

The BBG members were divided into two groups of four, and were accompanied by a B’nai Brith House employee who loaded the baskets onto a cart. They then went to each floor, where they were met by a resident volunteer, who aided the girls with the deliveries to each unit.

Each resident were surprised, delighted and touched by not only receiving the food baskets, but having them delivered with a smile from BBG members. Some of them even went as far as helping the residents unpack the baskets and putting away the food items in their kitchens. As well, many of the BBGers stopped to have a brief chat with residents.

“This is a wonderful thing that the girls are doing for us. It certainly keeps them out of trouble,” quipped resident Beatrice Ellison, who was herself a BBYO member in Montreal during the 1940s, and shared with the girls some of her own BBYO experiences.

Jean Puritt, another B’nai Brith House resident, agrees.

“The girls are doing a lot of mitzvahs by bringing the baskets to us,” she said.

By 8 p.m., the deliveries of the Rosh Hashanah food baskets were done, leaving a good feeling with everyone involved.

“I love doing community programming,” said Kayley Miller, n’siah (president) of Chapter L’Chaim. “It’s a great way to start off our programming year. I also love giving back to our community and it’s exciting to see that what we are doing pays off for other people. It just shows how nice the Montreal Jewish community really is. And the residents who received the food baskets we delivered to them were so thankful; it was great talking with them, too.”

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