Volunteers Bring Hanukkah Cheer to Lower East Side Residents

By Sonja Sharp on December 19, 2011 8:07am 

Volunteer Zachary Peikon, 27, shares a smile with Yelena Kotlyir, a resident of the Lejb and Golda Orenstein Building on the Lower East Side.
Volunteer Zachary Peikon, 27, shares a smile with Yelena Kotlyir, a resident of the Lejb and Golda Orenstein Building on the Lower East Side.
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DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp

LOWER EAST SIDE — A small army of volunteers braved the freezing temperatures Sunday morning to bring warm smiles and boxes of Hanukkah treats to elderly Jewish residents living on the Lower East Side. 

Yefim and Freida Morozovskiy were among the more than 80 low-income, Russian-Jewish tenants who received kosher care packages just in time for the Festival of Lights, which begins Tuesday night. 

The pair, both in their 80s, live in the heart of what was once the city's largest Jewish community. Like many of their neighbors, they rely in part on donations from the non-profit Project Ezra, which partnered with J-Care to provide the Hanukkah boxes that included cereals, dried fruit, gefilte fish and other kosher items.

"It's not Santa — the idea is to say hello," said Dalia Abott, a Project Ezra social worker who helped coordinate Sunday's event. "This population we work with is so needy."

Some residents of the Lejb and Golda Orenstein Building near Grand Street were so excited they rushed out of their apartments to greet the volunteers, who deliver packages for Jewish holidays throughout the year.   

Though several were helping out for the first time, the overwhelming majority of volunteers at Sunday's event were seasoned veterans.

Jason Shechter, 29, of Midtown, said it was his fifth time delivering food for the holidays. 

"They love it," he said of the recipients. "They miss their friends, they miss their kids. Some of these people have probably been there 50 years in the same apartment. It's the same holidays every year, so they come to look forward to it." 

Volunteers prepare boxes for elderly Jewish residents of the Lower East Side before Hanukkah .
Volunteers prepare boxes for elderly Jewish residents of the Lower East Side before Hanukkah .
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DNAinfo/Sonja Sharp

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