Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
The following is being written on my way to London and the St. John's Wood Jewish community there. I will be participating in a special event that fittingly coincides with the Terumah Torah portion.
This community of 1,200 will be devoting an entire Shabbat to honor two individuals for their outstanding terumah (contribution) during the coronavirus pandemic.
Ileana Ereira, during the first lockdown, organized a contingent of dozens of teenagers who distributed hot meals to the needy throughout London. Her efforts not only benefited the needy, but the teenage volunteers themselves who were uplifted by their giving at an enormously trying time in their lives.
Beverly Calvert, immediately after the outbreak of the virus, opened WhatsApp groups and held Zoom meetings under the title of "Shmoozing." This began with chats, jokes, recipes and whatever it took to maintain sanity, and continued with Torah classes, lots of words of inspiration and positive reinforcement that helped so many during those difficult days.
While reading the material I was sent regarding Ileana and Beverly, it occurred to me that, in discussing parashat Terumah, it is customary to speak a lot about the contributions of the children of Israel to building the Mishkan or desert sanctuary and, in general, how important it is to give. Giving, of course, is important, but sometimes we neglect to properly appreciate those who give.
We don't need to be experts in British etiquette to look back, now and then, and acknowledge those who strengthen the foundations of the home, the family, and the community, and to simply say: Thank you.