When I first heard of a hesed enterprise called “Ladies Who Hesed,” I was a bit confused. One of the cofounders explained that the name is a take-off from “Ladies Who Lunch.” Now I understood – these ladies do hesed.
Preparing this article granted me the wonderful opportunity to meet two very special women who are busy raising their own young families, and yet find the time to help so many others, too. One of them, Marilyn Levy, also works as an interior designer, and the other, Margo Braha, is also involved in several other hesed organizations. As the interview unfolded, I felt that I was in the presence of greatness. Here is the next generation doing hesed. No fanfare. Just hesed of the highest order.
Ladies Who Hesed was born in the tightknit community of Deal, NJ, where everyone knows everyone else, and people love to help each other. Our two protagonists began their enterprise by creating “meal trains,” or charts, supplying hot, fresh meals for new mothers. Through word of mouth, or via one of the popular chat groups, Margo and Marilyn arranged schedules to ensure that new mothers would be given meals for their families. Then, Marilyn and Margo were alerted that there was a new member of the community who experienced a loss, among other difficulties, and who needed help. The ladies arranged meals for this family, too.
At one point, before one of the holidays, the cooks were busy cooking for their own families, and it seemed there would be a problem providing meals for everyone who needed. Marilyn suggested that the time had come to fundraise and buy readymade meals from reliable restaurants and caterers.
This had the added benefit of helping to support merchants suffering from the loss of business due to the coronavirus crisis. These same merchants, many of them food vendors, showed their gratitude by later sponsoring food shipments to families in need. Among these vendors are Nicole’s Kitchen, Nahum Bakery, Freddie’s Grill, Gluten Free SY, Sarah’s Tent. Ouri’s, SY Cuisine, Bloombar Flower Market, and Boutique Butcher.
Marilyn and Margo found themselves being the spokes in a wheel of hesed activities. They continued further, sharpening their antennae to sense needs which they could help fill without having to first be approached.
Margo was waiting for dismissal at her child’s preschool when she saw someone there who no longer had small children. She approached her and asked, in a friendly manner, what she was doing there.
“A family member had surgery and the mom couldn’t come to pick up her daughter,” the woman explained.
Margo immediately set out to help the family.
With lightning speed, Margo and Marilyn’s foray into the world of hesed mushroomed, helping dozens of families in Deal, Brooklyn, and elsewhere. They are overwhelmed by the generosity of their sponsors. They are always on the lookout for hesed opportunities, and with the help of their sponsors, they are making a huge difference, one hot meal at a time.
Margo and Marilyn love what they are doing, and they do it with passionate dedication and enthusiasm. They not only talk; they act. They exemplify the rabbinic teaching, “Hama’aseh hu ha’ikar – The main thing is action.”
Marilyn and Margo asked that we convey the following message to the community, thanking everyone for their outpouring of support and encouragement, and asking for continued assistance:
Hesed is our mission. We are so blessed to have the power to reach people this way. This is, by far, the greatest adventure that we have ever been on. We say “adventure” because we don’t know what this journey will bring, or what we will be able to accomplish. We hope to continue this hesed mission for as long as the community allows us to.
Thank you to every single one of you who has supported us – not only to all the great hard workers in our local restaurants, groceries and butcher shops, and all the cooks in the kitchen, but also to all our friends and family who were behind us this whole time rooting us along. Whether you donated $1 or $100, you all helped us create Ladies Who Hesed, and we would not be able to do any of this without all of you.
If you would like to be a part of our adventure, whether you want to volunteer, sponsor or donate, or if you have any questions, you can find us on Instagram @LadiesWhoHesed, or you can email us at: Ladieswhohesed@gmail.com.
We know giving tzedeka is important to all. We post Shabbat candle lighting times every week to give everyone the opportunity to Venmo us any amount.
Thank you again for all your support.
Marilyn & Margo
Ladies Who Hesed