By Danielle Stavi and Maayan Shoshani
One of the most widely known commands of the Torah is to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). What does this look like during a year like 2020 with social distancing, lockdowns, closures, and neighbors who may or may not be following the established protocols?
How do we love our neighbors at this time in history? That was the question that we dedicated our entire year to answering. As part of a team of Israeli ministers called Mekomi (“locals”) based out of Tel Aviv, we normally spend our days reaching out to and caring for addicts, prostitutes, and the homeless.
But when COVID-19 led to the shutdown of our soup kitchen and city shelters, we had to go back to the drawing board. How do you offer meals to people in need when they can’t come to you or gather together? You have to bring the food to them. Our vision to run a mobile soup kitchen out of a food truck was born out of the need to love our neighbors through whatever means possible.
We are now able to safely distribute 80 meals from the truck two to three times each week! We stock it with food and water, and we drive, stopping in the various locations around the city where drugs are sold. Some of us stay in the truck and serve food and water to those who approach and are interested, while others of us walk around and meet with people. We get on their level, we pray with them, and we let them know they’re valued and not alone. We hope that when people see the truck, they’ll know that it brings food, water, and an open door to a changed life.
The Mekomi team: Maayan is on the far left, Danielle is on the far right.
Maayan talks to people on the street.
Danielle serves sandwiches from the back of the truck.