This past summer, our country was experiencing the height of the pandemic, masks were mandatory but not always easy to find. Around the same time, some people around the country began to express anti-police feelings which sometimes tragically turned violent.
To show their support of local law enforcement, Rabbi Yanky, Chanshy Majesky and Chabad North Orlando ran a police appreciation project where custom masks were made for law enforcement officers with the logo of their department.
The program was made possible by the generosity of the Law Offices of Michael Brehne, The Yashar family and many other members of the Jewish community. Rabbi Majesky is a chaplain in the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office and so the original idea was to provide this gift for all Sheriff deputies. When the community saw how well it was received, with emails and thank you cards coming in, they expanded the program to other local police departments of Longwood, Lake Mary and Sanford.
“Local law enforcement has always been here for our community, making sure we feel safe and protected,” explained Rabbi Majesky. “When there was an attack in Chabad of Poway, Calif., our law enforcement was there, when we need an escort for our Chanukah parade, they are there. This gift was the least we can do to show our appreciation.”
Following the Police Appreciation project, many local agencies expressed an interest to have the Jewish community more involved with their community outreach. The first opportunity for partnership came recently when law enforcement agencies in Seminole County joined forces with the Seniors Intervention Group to bring food, hot meals and other items for the elderly in need across the county. The project had many faith groups and businesses donating various items that will be distributed by volunteers before Thanksgiving.
The Longwood PD has asked Chabad of North Orlando to help with a specific area of this project. Seniors Intervention Group has found that many of our seniors have pets that they often put before themselves as family members in their home. They therefore asked the Jewish community to collect various types of pet food for the SIG pantry so that any senior with pets will receive food for their pets as well as the senior holiday meal.
“The community really gave generously to this project. I don’t think the police were expecting that much to be donated. We were thrilled to pack the police car with pet food,” said Chanshy Majesky.
“I know that for many seniors, especially those living alone and isolated during COVID-19, their pets are like their babies,” said community member Gracia Smith. “Any parent would go hungry to feed their baby and we are happy to make sure that does not happen.”
One of the youngest donors to this project was 10-year-old Jackie Berger of Longwood who saved up some of her own money in a charity box for a special cause.
“Hearing that this project was going to help both animals and their needy human owners made me so happy and I knew this is where I wanted to give my charity box,” said Jackie.
“I cannot believe you guys are for real!” said a tearful senior receiving the pet food. “My Chloe is my family and I am so thankful that you would include her! This is such a blessing and I am beyond grateful.”