Community Briefs; JRA Schedule, Security Concerns, More

Volunteers at the JRA warehouse. Courtesy of Jewish Relief Agency

JRA Moves Toward More Regular Distributions
The Jewish Relief Agency announced that, starting July 11, it will welcome more volunteers back to its warehouse for traditional distribution Sundays, with volunteers packing and distributing food boxes on the same day.

JRA said it will take a gradual approach, increasing its capacity limits each month and offering additional volunteer opportunities during the week to pack and deliver boxes of food and other goods.

“We’re grateful to our volunteers for staying the course and showing up in new ways during the pandemic,” JRA Executive Director Jodi Roth-Saks said. “Now is the perfect time to phase back into a ‘new normal’ and regain the distinct feeling and power of community.”
During distribution Sundays, volunteers carry boxes through an assembly line, while other volunteers place items into each box.

JRA will continue to accommodate volunteers who prefer to pack independently with its modified “individual cart” style. Priority for those spots will be given to families with children under age 12.

During the pandemic, JRA re-engineered its food distribution model through capacity limits, enforcing social distancing and enhanced cleaning procedures in the warehouse, among other things.

Register in advance for volunteer opportunities at

Jewish Groups Express Concerns About Pennsylvania Security Defunding
The Union of Orthodox Congregations of America (Orthodox Union) and Jewish community leaders expressed concern that the Pennsylvania General Assembly voted in late June to defund a five-year directive to provide funding for people and groups at-risk of hate crimes.
After the murders at the Tree of Life complex in Pittsburgh in 2018, the state established a $5 million Nonprofit Security Grant Program Fund, and awarded more than $10 million at levels from $25,000 to $150,000 to 243 nonprofit organization for security enhancements.

The program had been authorized through 2024.

The Orthodox Union called upon the legislature to reconsider the defunding of the grant fund.

“As extremism and antisemitism continue to surge, a reduction in much-needed security funding for our sacred institutions is alarming,” Rabbi Yehoshua Yeamans of Congregation B’nai Israel – Ohev Zedek of Philadelphia said in an Orthodox Union news release.

NMAJH Announces ‘Hometown Hero’ Winner
The National Museum of American Jewish History announced that the first “Hometown Hero” entrant into its Ed Snider Only in America Gallery/Hall of Fame, which recognizes outstanding Jewish Americans, will be Pam Blais of Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Blais, a former emergency room nurse, launched The Pantry Box to deliver boxes of snacks and, at one point, masks and meals, to area emergency departments. Her daughters joined in, demonstrating an intergenerational commitment to giving back.

She then founded Care4Frontline to address burnout, post-traumatic stress and mental health issues in the health care community.

The Only in America Gallery includes 23 prior inductees, including Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Steven Spielberg, Barbara Streisand, Emma Lazarus and Irving Berlin.

For the first time, NMAJH solicited nominations for Hometown Heroes — everyday citizens who strive to make their communities a better place — and the public voted in June for the candidates.

One of the nominees was Abbe Stern of Philadelphia, who works with local food redistribution efforts.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here