Joseph Block, son of Christy and Andrew Block, was called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah on Saturday, April 24, at Temple Beth El in Allentown. The Springhouse Middle School seventh-grader and JCC basketball player was sorry to hear that the religious school would not be making hamantaschen to deliver to Country Meadows residents as they usually do each year as part of the mishloach manot tradition of giving gifts of food and sweets on Purim. The students could not gather in large groups to make the tasty cookies because of the pandemic, and Country Meadows was not allowing visitors.
“At Hebrew School it’s always a tradition to make hamantaschen for Country Meadows, and it always makes the people there so happy. Since we couldn’t do it at Hebrew School, I thought I could do it myself,” Joseph said when asked why he chose this mitzvah project.
“We brainstormed about project ideas,” added Joseph’s mom, Christy. “We talked to Alicia Zahn, Temple Beth El religious school director, about a way to replicate what we had done for Country Meadows.”
Alicia introduced Joseph to Chelsea Karp while Joseph was packing birthday bags for Jewish Family Service clients. With Chelsea’s help, they were able to keep the tradition going even with the pandemic.
Joseph loves to bake, so they came up with the idea of baking hamantaschen to be delivered by Mazel Meals. Mazel Meals is a JFS program which delivers kosher meals to dozens of local older adults each month. To produce kosher hamantaschen on that scale, they needed a kosher kitchen that was not a home kitchen, so they made hamantaschen in the kitchen at Temple Beth El.
“We went in as a family with Joseph’s grandparents, Rance and Sheryl Block, and even Joseph’s little sister, Caroline, helped out,” Christy added.
Joseph also mobilized friends within the Jewish community to help bake hamantaschen in their own kitchens to donate to JFS.
“We made prune, apricot and raspberry hamantaschen,” Joseph said. “My dad sent around a Facebook post about making hamantaschen, and we donated over 200 hamantaschen. I felt accomplished!”
Christy and Andrew are so proud of Joseph for his hard work, his kind heart and his positive attitude despite the challenges that the pandemic has presented over the past year.