Shabbat Food for the Quarantined Soul

For two weeks in early May, hundreds of families got a dose of nourishment and nurturing Shabbats thanks to a special care packages from Friendship Circle.

The first week’s “Challah and Chicken Soup for the Quarantined Soul” package included rolls, grape juice, kiddush cup, Shabbat candles and homemade chicken soup (matzah balls were optional). The next Shabbat care package included hummus, gefilte fish and dessert along with Shabbat candles, grape juice, kiddush cup and challah.

Organizers had initially planned for about 125 Shabbat care packages, but word got out and the requests started pouring in. Families were also offered the opportunity to pick up Shabbat packages for their homebound neighbors.

Staffers quickly moved into action. Their initial challah order with a local bakery was quickly upped to accommodate more families, and they scrambled to find quart-size plastic containers for the soup.

One of the homebound individuals who received a box delivery said, “It is such a blessing and a little miracle because I did not have any challah for Shabbas tonight and then I received this kit with everything including Challah rolls! This is how I know I am blessed and regardless of what we go through in life, in the world – for sure G-d hears our prayers.”

All told, some 300 Shabbat boxes were prepared each week, and by early Friday afternoon, many people had arrived at LifeTown to pick up the items. Handlers wore face masks and gloves. Some families even went home with a bonus gift—much-needed surgical masks, thanks to a generous Friendship Circle donor.

“Even though we can’t be together in person, we wanted the community to know that we are thinking about them and help ease the loneliness that many people are feeling,” said Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, CEO of Friendship Circle New Jersey. “With the packages, we can all celebrate the joy and beauty of Shabbat together.”

Portions of this story originally appeared on

You may also like...