The Facebook-driven election is on, with a wide variety of candidates vying to top the chart of this year’s Jewish Community Heroes, a contest sponsored by The Jewish Federations of North America. Among the 306 contenders are nine from Long Island, ranging from a challah baker to a collector of shoah survivor stories.
Lawrence resident Lori Marton, who is currently in second place among Volunteer Heroes, was nominated for the Ohel Sara Amen Group, which takes place daily in her home. She is in second place behind Monsey resident Leah Rubashkin, wife of convicted former Agriprocessors executive Sholom Mordechai Rubashkin.
“Mrs. Marton’s daughter was not well, and so we met to learn about shmiras lashon in her zechut,” said founder Judy Rubin. “It was a very intimate circle of women meeting for 10 days of teshuvah, and six years later we are still here.”
The online poll is in its third year, inspired by CNN’s Heroes, which profiles “everyday people changing the world.”
While Marton’s home features lectures for women, Woodmere resident Marla Turk stuffs boxes at her house with challah rolls, bound for exotic destinations such as Afghanistan, Djibouti and Iraq, to be eaten by Jewish soldiers on Shabbat. “My mother took it to another level, sending matzos on Pesach and Shaloch Manos on Purim,” said Adam Turk. “She buys it herself, packs it and mails it.”
The effort began four years ago when chaplain Capt. Shlomo Shulman recognized that there is no challah available in Baghdad and found a woman to send him the packages. A year later, Turk took on the task, with assistance from Chabad of the Five Towns, which collects funding for the massive effort.
“It’s a tremendous zechut to help someone we may never see,” said Rabbi Shneur Zalman Wolowik. “The Rambam writes that if you don’t think about others during a yom tov, it’s a selfish celebration. They are on the front lines protecting all of us, and she shleps from the bakery to the post office to deliver challah.”
While packages take up to a week to reach Baghdad, Turk’s email inbox is inundated with gratitude and requests form other military bases. “Friday evenings were something I and many others looked forward to,” wrote Capt. Jordana Mallach, who lives in Lake Placid.