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Long IslandReligion

Asking the Clergy: How is your congregation helping those affected by coronavirus?

From left, Aslam Ali Mohamed of the Ahmadiyya

From left, Aslam Ali Mohamed of the Ahmadiyya Movement In Islam, Rabbi Uri Allen of Temple Beth Sholom and the Rev. Henrietta Scott Fullard of the Long Island District of African Methodist Episcopal Churches. Credit: Kamal Mohamed; Robert Salzbank; African Methodist Episcopal Churches

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In the third month of the coronavirus shutdown, many Long Islanders are joining volunteer efforts to help their neighbors through this period of isolation, anxiety and mourning. This week’s clergy discuss how their congregations have contributed to relief efforts by delivering food and protective equipment, assisting with access to government services, and keeping in touch with other homebound Long Islanders.

Rabbi Uri Allen

Temple Beth Sholom, Roslyn Heights

At Temple Beth Sholom, we are always focused on helping our members live Jewish lives filled with meaning and connection. Never has that priority been more present than during the coronavirus epidemic.

While we are separated from each other, Temple Beth Sholom has made sure to stay connected to our members and to the larger community. A team of staff and volunteers has been working the phones, calling our members, simply to reach out and say, “We are thinking about you.”

We have delivered food to those who can’t get to the store and picked up and delivered medications from the pharmacy. Of course, we have been providing for funeral needs, including all of our clergy officiating at funerals for those without synagogues or rabbis. Our services have all moved to Zoom as have our Early Childhood Center and Religious School programs. Each week we connect with our membership in different ways, giving our community a sense of being spiritually close although we are physically distant.

Aslam Ali Mohamed

New York metropolitan area regional youth leader, Ahmadiyya Movement In Islam

Like front-line workers on a battlefield, we at the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association have met other warriors along the way that have shown a willingness to help. The medical, financial, mental and spiritual strain for many people is self-evident. This is precisely why our youth teamed up with Humanity First USA by volunteering to provide relief throughout New York City and Long Island. To expand the reach of support, additional connections were made with the nonprofit World Central Kitchen, which provides meals to natural disaster victims; the Self-Esteem Rising girls empowerment movement; the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as SNAP); and the NYPD.

Every day our members as young as 15 help distribute hundreds of meals as well as masks, hand sanitizer, soap and groceries to homes in the metropolitan area. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community women's auxiliary works tirelessly to sew protective masks and deliver them to hospitals and nursing homes. Although this may prove to be the most life-altering time for individuals, the pandemic continues to connect communities toward one common goal of serving mankind with compassion.

The Rev. Henrietta Scott Fullard

Presiding elder (retired), Long Island District, African Methodist Episcopal Churches

COVID-19 has affected many people in New York State, with a disproportionate death toll among members of the African American community and other minorities. To make sure that we are all treated equally, historically African American churches are offering services to our communities to help sustain us economically, to facilitate social distancing and increase access to summer school classes, medical treatment and health benefits. Churches, with support from our governor, are beginning to provide such services as housing for the homeless, assistance in applying for unemployment benefits and access to health insurance, medication, food supplies and mental health care.

Statistics are showing that the COVID-19 crisis is disproportionately impacting African Americans. In response, our churches are working with Northwell Health to offer testing services so that we can receive appropriate care, immediately. The church will be there to stand with African American communities to ensure that we have equal access to services needed to help us through the ongoing pandemic.

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