On Thanksgiving Day, over 25 Young Israel of New Rochelle families participated in YINR’s annual “Operation Turkey.” YINR families formed teams to deliver traditional Thanksgiving Day meals of sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans and, of course, roasted turkey to New Rochelle’s police headquarters and all five fire houses around the city. Over 100 meals, generously sponsored by YINR families, were distributed. This year’s event was organized by Rafi Halpert, Harold Rosengarten and Michael Turek.
“We deliver food for them as a salute to and in appreciation of the sacrifices made year round by the emergency services for our community and for the broader New Rochelle community,” said Michael Turek, one of the event organizers. The YINR community feels that this event is one of its most important community outreach activities and is an excellent way to demonstrate hakarat hatov (gratitude) to the individuals who have the responsibility of keeping the neighborhood safe.
The local firefighters complete 24-hour shifts over Thanksgiving Day and are kept busy mostly fighting small fires in local residential kitchens. All of the New Rochelle fire stations welcomed the YINR families with tours of the station, fire trucks and other firefighting equipment. NRFD Lieutenant Andrew Burpee, of EMS and fire station #1, received the delivery team and expressed that this is “a great tradition which they have continued for many years.” Lt. Burpee continued that the “firefighters and EMS crew truly appreciate the dinner and love seeing the kids explore the equipment in the fire station.” He added that he was so pleased to have so many parents and children keep in touch with his department throughout the year, and was delighted to see familiar faces return.
“This is one of our favorite family events of the year,” shared Michelle Goldberg, a third-time participant. “We hope the relationship between YINR and the fire and police department is strong.” Goldberg sees the event as “a positive message for our children.” Shachar Minkove, another third-time participant, added, “We love to show our appreciation to our finest and bravest!”
The families who arrived at the New Rochelle Police Department were greeted by Sergeant Flanigan, who gave the delivery team a tour of police headquarters, which included all of the children in the group having a brief stay in a jail cell behind locked bars. Sergeant Flanigan told his guests how thankful the officers are. “It means a lot to us when people in the community donate this food and can come to visit us on days when we cannot be with our own families.”
Dara and Matt Shatzkes’ family visited police headquarters for a third time. Dara Shatzkes, mother of three young children, wanted to convey to her children that while they were able to be with family on Thanksgiving, there are many men and women who protect and help us every day and really deserve to be with their families; however, they have to work and therefore are unable to. “We teach our children the importance of giving back and showing gratitude, and this is an opportunity to highlight a simple task that can bring happiness and joy,” Shatzkes explained. “We appreciate their making and keeping New Rochelle a safe place for all of us to continue to live and raise our children. The effort, care and hard work of the New Rochelle police officers and firefighters does not go unnoticed or unappreciated.” Shatzkes also wanted to point out that it is an event her family looks forward to every year and is only possible due to the YINR sponsors and the hard work of the organizers.
When asked what motivated them to get up early Thanksgiving morning to deliver food, Jacob Lorbert, age 6, replied, “To do a mitzvah and to show the police department we are grateful.” Shira Lorbert, age 8, then added, “The New Rochelle police help us out and keep us safe on Shabbos, so we wanted to say thank you!” Sydney Berger, age 6, added that “it is nice to do something important every day, even when we don’t have school.” Estee Lorbert, age 5, summed up the experience by saying, “We had such a fun time!”
“We were very happy at the support this program received this year, from both sponsors and volunteers who helped deliver the meals. The turnout was probably our best ever,” reported Harold Rosengarten, one of the organizers. YINR members hope to continue this annual tradition for many years.
By Judy Berger