Before she set her own table for Rosh Hashanah dinner last weekend, Rabbi Danielle Eskow and her children visited a survivor of the Holocaust. In their hands was an abundant meal, the holiday’s signature snack of apples and honey, and a bouquet of flowers. Delivering meals is something that Eskow and her children do regularly, both for holidays and the weekly Shabbat meal.
“It’s the highlight of my week,” said Eskow. “Fridays are the days when I feel like I get the most… like my soul gets filled.”
Eskow is the leading volunteer at Jewber (a play on Uber), a community organization that provides free Shabbat and holiday meals for Holocaust survivors in Greater Boston. The organization was started by three Brandeis graduate students — Simon Luxemburg, Myla Green, and Ana Sazonov — during the COVID-19 pandemic, when Holocaust survivors were even more isolated than usual.
When the three founders graduated and could no longer maintain the organization full-time, Eskow and her mother, Dina Gobuty, got behind the wheel. Now, Jewber delivers Shabbat and holiday meals to about 20 Holocaust survivors every week. Eskow said that some of their volunteers drive from Sharon to Newton to transport meals; college students also volunteer and make deliveries.
“A huge part of being Jewish is tzedakah and tikkun olam,” Eskow said, explaining terms that mean “charity” and “repairing the world,” respectively. “It’s about giving back. It’s about making a difference in the world.”
Every meal they deliver is donated by Dushez catering, a New England-based kosher catering company whose food blends a wide range of cuisines from Jewish to French to Mediterranean. Dushez is owned by Galit and Yoel Konstantine, a couple from Israel.
“My mother lives alone in Israel, so this whole subject is very close to our hearts,” said Galit Konstantine. Jewber’s mission is personal for Yoel Konstantine as well — some members of his own family had been Holocaust survivors. “Holocaust survivors are still out there,” said Yoel Konstantine. “And we can do something about it.”
For their Shabbat meals, the couple always includes a protein — whether it’s chicken or fish — along with a starch, a vegetable, and a dessert. “Even a pasta dish,” Yoel Konstantine said. “Even things a little bit more out of the ordinary, not just traditional.” Every Jewber meal from Dushez is also paired with challah bread from Newton’s Blacker’s Bakery and two candles to light in accordance with the Shabbat tradition.
For Rosh Hashanah, which ended Sunday, the couple elevated the menu. “We’ll give extra things for the holiday like a honey cake and maybe also extra soup,” said Galit Konstantine. “Always something extra.”
Galit Konstantine makes all the desserts in-house. She said her chocolate chip cookies are one of the participants’ favorite treats. They also cater to dietary restrictions for vegetarians and those with medical conditions.
“We’ll be there one day, lonely and old. We have to remember this,” said Galit Konstantine. “I think it’s really important that they feel that someone really cares about them.”
Even more than just providing food, Jewber volunteers provide company, something that a lot of Holocaust survivors don’t often have. Eskow remembers a time when she and her daughters delivered a meal to an older woman on Hanukkah. When they got to her home, they realized that the woman didn’t have a menorah — she hadn’t been able to find hers since her husband passed away. So Eskow and her daughters found some tea lights, shaping them into a makeshift menorah so that they could light the candles with her.
“The fact that we were there and able to help her, and really bring that light back into her life for the holiday — literally and figuratively — was very powerful,” said Eskow. “Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of a new year... It’s also an opportunity to think about how we can make the world a better place, our community a better place this year.”
Elena Giardina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.