Newly-elected Councilwoman Alexa Aviles Visits Masbia, Praises Jewish Culture for Always Giving to Others
By Yehudit Garmaise
Newly-elected Councilwoman Alexa Avilés for District 38 visited Masbia on 5402 New Utrecht Ave., yesterday to peel many carrots for the food the organization prepares, in the addition to the 200 to 300 people to whom Masbia delivers groceries every day.
“I realize I am not a really good chopper, but I am a great peeler,” Councilwoman Avilés said with a laugh.
Avilés reached out to visit Masbia yesterday because since the darkest days of the pandemic, the councilmember took it upon herself to deliver food to members of the community who were hungry and isolated.
“When the pandemic hit, there was so much fear and many people, especially seniors, were home alone and didn’t have access to food,” said Avilés, who used her own community networks to find people who desperately needed groceries.
Where did she get the food?
“I just went to the store and bought it,” Avilés said simply. “It was such a desperate and sad time. Everyone was getting sick in large numbers. My own family lost four members to COVID.”
The darkness of the time was what drove her.
“When you feel helpless, you help someone: is definitely the way I operate,” explained Avilés, who noticed at the time that while the government was slow in figuring out how to quickly get food to people in need, Masbia, on the other hand, had devised an efficient appointment system, so that the many people in need did not have to wait in long lines to get food, as they had been previously doing.
While Avilés described the government’s approach to food distribution as, “Here is your can of baked beans. Now go away,” she was struck by the “depth of human dignity” that Masbia gives its recipients.
“The amazing thing is that Masbia has been able to get better produce, get kosher options for Jewish families, and in general get food for people that they might actually want and that is culturally relevant to them.”
In addition to Masbia’s cultural sensitivity regarding food, Avilés was struck by how Masbia opens its doors to everyone.
“They have fliers in every language,” said Avilés. “They have created the most humane food distribution way for all kinds of residents
Masbia models a profound giving back, giving to, and partnering with the community.”
In Boro Park, Avilés saw that Masbia’s example and model of chesed was “part of the Jewish culture of giving to others in need.
“All of the workers are really wonderful, and everyone really is committed to that way of being.”
While she was touring Masbia and learning about its operations and its challenges, she said she was moved by how deeply she felt, in her heart, everyone at the Jewish food distribution center’s desire to do chesed.
“Everything Masbia does is steeped in love, which feels very pervasive there,” she said.