Meals on Wheels in the Blizzard

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk



When I was nineteen years old, I had the good fortune of being allowed to enter the 94th Infantry of the U.S. Army. I was only an ordinary soldier. However, I met one man during that time who had won the Congressional Medal of Honor for so amazing a feat that very few could possibly equal the courage and disregard for self-preservation that these men displayed.

There are, however, also some who show similar courage and devotion to the principle teaching of the Torah, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Leviticus 19:20) One of these is Rabbi Eliezer Labkowski, the rabbi of the Center for Jewish Life located in Amherst, NY.

During the recent blizzard in Buffalo, which lasted five days in December of last year, Rabbi Labkowski and several volunteers walked through that dangerous storm to deliver food to those who were shut-ins or had no means of getting to a store before the blizzard enveloped the city. Driving was prohibited during the storm and walking risked the life of those who did so. Yet, together with a number of volunteers, including Steven Rosenfeld and others whose names I do not know, these courageous men, under the leadership of their rabbi, faced a true nightmare of a storm, relying on the sentence in the Jewish prayer book, Adonai li, v’lo ira, “The Lord is with me , I do not fear.”

It is easy to speak the word “blizzard.” It was no act of courage and no effort to sit at home in a warm room and watch the horror of the snowstorm on TV. It is a feat of unusual courage and confidence in the Almighty to leave one’s house and  walk into a storm which had not been equaled in 46 years. Therefore I believe that Rabbi Labkowski and those who volunteered with him to bring food to the needy at the risk of their own lives should also win the Congressional Medal of Honor because I say so.

Shalom u'vracha.

  Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including The American Jewish Community in the 20th and 21st Century (2021).


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