by: Aryeh Cohen on March 6th, 2015 | No Comments »
Yesterday, Purim, at noon, three of us from the Shtibl minyan went to fulfill the orphaned child of the Purim obligations. Starting in the year Shtibl was established (15 years ago) we decided, as a community, that we would put as much effort into matanot la-evyonim/ gifting to the poor as we poured into mishloach manot/exchanging gifts, hearing the megillah, and having a raucous Purim meal. We started with PB&J sandwiches delivered out of a van driving east on Pico Blvd., and gradually built out (with inspiration from The Giving Spirit), making mini-survival packs (tuna packs, energy bars, first aid kits, antibiotic lotion, hand cream and so on) to go with the PB&J. This year in our small community (20-30 members) we put together 144 packs which were delivered on the Santa Monic boardwalk (“home of the homeless” to quote Harry Shearer) and on Skid Row. Three adults and eight kids went west to the boardwalk, while we drove east to skid row.
Los Angeles’ Skid Row (called “the Row” by activists and people who live there) is more or less a 54 square block area of downtown Los Angeles. It is not an official designation, although Waze, the GPS navigation app, told us exactly how to get there when we typed in “skid row.” There are somewhere between 2500 and 5000 homeless people living on the Row, according to counts by the Los Angeles Housing Services Authority and estimates of the Chamber of Commerce. Still, knowing those numbers (I wrote about LA’s homeless population in my book Justice in the City) does not prepare one for the human reality.