search Donate now Call 845-356-0202 to Donate

Feeding Souls and Bodies

Feeding Souls at Tomche Shabbos

You heard many stories about how Tomche Shabbos changes lives by helping families with much-needed food. However, did you know that for some Tomche Shabbos has proven to be life-changing in a completely different way?

Y., a former Tomche Shabbos volunteer, shares his story:

When I was in high school, I was feeling a bit lost. My father is a well-respected Rosh Yeshiva, and my brothers are all serious, committed kollel men. Although I was always close to them, I did not follow in their footsteps. I hung out with a cool crowd, made business deals with all kinds of interesting people, and spent hours each day in bars. I was not into drugs, but I loved to party. There were times when I’d don the yeshiva uniform and pretend to be part of that life, and times when I didn’t bother with the whole charade and just did my thing.

I was always looking for an adrenaline rush, and one of the things I loved to do was sit at the wheel of a car and watch the speedometer climb. I even hit 150 mph sometimes. It was such a thrill!

One day, I was speeding on the highway near LaGaurdia Airport when a bunch of lights and sirens began following me. Turns out, because I hadn’t bothered to replace the expired plates yet, the cops thought I was driving a stolen car. I also learned that the first cop who had tried following me had busted his tires. His friends weren’t in the best mood and treated me quite aggressively. They also let me know they had clocked me going 120 mph.

When the police searched my car, they found five fake IDs. That didn’t exactly help my case. I spent a lot of time in court and eventually the judge sentenced me to 200 hours of community service. In retrospect, I realize that I probably would have died driving if the police hadn’t stopped me that day.

I soon learned that one of the places where I could fulfill my community service was at Tomche Shabbos. When I arrived at the warehouse for the first time, Mr. Rosenstock was all chilled and accepting. He didn’t ask for my story. Instead, he said, “Hashem sent you here. You’ll see that everything will work out.”

The attitude among the other volunteers reflected that of Mr. Rosenstock. Everyone was so accepting, and the atmosphere was one of productivity and goodwill. I remember one chassidishe guy, V., who was always super nice. He was far from rich himself, but he often came with his kids and was such an inspiration.

I had done community service at other places too, but I usually felt as though I was wasting my time. Tomche Shabbos was different. I began spending up to 10 hours a day there. As I became more involved, I also delivered packages and tried fundraising from family and friends.

With time, I got to meet hundreds of volunteers. It wasn’t like there were only 25 of them. Different people came at different times, and it was such an eye-opener, seeing so many Yidden giving of themselves so selflessly. Everyone was so sensitive and discreet when it came to dealing with the families, and no one discussed names or addresses. It felt really good being a part of such amazing chesed. I felt proud, seeing how special Jews are. No fights were breaking out; everything ran smoothly and everyone did what they had to do.

The time I spent at Tomche Shabbos really gave me a big boost in Yiddishkeit. Sometimes we see Jews doing stuff that isn’t really okay, but seeing all this goodness in Klal Yisrael somehow countered all that. It was a period of growth and introspection, and I felt good doing something meaningful.

Today, I’m learning in yeshiva full time in Eretz Yisrael. I feel connected to Hashem and committed to continuing to make chesed a part of my life. I plan to continue learning for as long as I can and am so happy to be where I am today. I am grateful to Tomche Shabbos for being a source of inspiration during a difficult time, and I still try to raise some funds when I find the time. After all, I’ve seen firsthand how many hungry families—and even hungry souls— Tomche Shabbos feeds!