Photo Credit: Masbia Soup Kitchen / Twitter
Masbia relief effort in Bronx, Jan. 9, 2022

Volunteers with the Masbia Kitchen Network, a nonprofit soup kitchen network and food pantry, and the Shomron civil protection organization teamed up to help the victims of a horrific fire that struck a large apartment building Sunday afternoon in the Bronx.

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“This is going to be one of the worst fires that we have witnessed during modern times,” Mayor Eric Adams told reporters. “It’s a tragedy beyond measure. Join me in praying for those we lost, especially the nine innocent young lives that were cut short.”

At least 19 people died in the blaze – including nine children – and 32 others were hospitalized, many in serious and critical condition. For the dozens who were left homeless, city vouchers for hotel rooms made the difference between sub-zero temperatures overnight and a warm bed to sleep in.

But two Jewish community organizations put their efforts together to gather food and essential supplies for the victims, delivering hot meals and other products to the Bronx by evening.

Volunteers from Boro Park, Flatbush and Crown Heights Shomrim branches helped load vehicles with supplies provided by Masbia and Greenfield Caterers for the families.

Masbia purchased some $5,000 worth of toiletries – toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, soap, towels and other hygiene supplies – as well as single-wrap pastries and cans of soda. Hot soup, chicken nuggets and rice were provided by Greenfield Caterers.

The supplies were packed up and taken to the site of the fire, one of the worst to strike New York City in decades.

Upon arrival, Masbia set up a tent and served hot meals to those who lived in the building. The effort was coordinated by newly appointed Mayor’s Commissioner of Community Affairs Unit Fred Kreizman, and NYPD Inspector Richie Taylor.

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It is believed the fire was caused by a malfunctioning space heater.

While fleeing the smoke generated by the broken space heater, the occupants of the apartment forgot to close their door, allowing the smoke to billow into the hallway and then throughout the building.

“FDNY urges New Yorkers to always close the door when escaping a fire,” the city fire department tweeted in the aftermath of the tragedy. “Closing the door saves lives.”

“As a mark of respect for the victims,” all flags in the city are being flown at half-staff by order of the mayor, until sunset on Wednesday, January 12.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.