Following a beautiful tefillah and Hallel b’tzibbur, the WTA middle school boarded buses departing for Fleetwood Synagogue in Mount Vernon. Once there, they enjoyed lunch in the synagogue’s sukkah, where Rabbi Daniel Rosenfelt gave a thoughtful talk to the students. He pointed out that there’s an obvious beauty to the arba minim, but that the schach of the sukkah, on the other hand, typically is made from more humble, dried or leftover materials, and not the beautiful parts. This is meant to teach us, first, that we are to be resourceful and to appreciate, conserve and use everything that Hashem gives us, so that nothing is wasted. Second, it is to teach us that appearances can be deceiving, and even those things that seem humble or insignificant, like some simple, dried-up reeds, can have tremendous value. Put together in the proper way, they can become a schach, without which a sukkah is incomplete!
They then boarded buses to do chesed work at the Afya Foundation in Yonkers. Afya is a Swahili word meaning good health, and the foundation’s mission is to improve global health by rescuing surplus medical supplies and delivering them to underserved health systems around the world. Inside Afya’s massive 17,000-square-foot warehouse, the students sorted medical supplies, checked their expiration dates and then helped pack the supplies for shipment to South Africa, Tanzania and the victims of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. A worthy project, indeed, and a fine way to perform a mitzvah of chesed during Chol Hamoed.