At its very core, Judaism is community, and community service.

At its very core, Judaism is community, and community service.

So when the deadly novel coronavirus pandemic threated the very foundation of the Baltimore Jewish community, religious leaders across the county rushed to find ways to stay connected.

“This is an incredible moment of reinvention, a challenge like we have never seen and realities like we've never seen before. But our religion always teaches us that no matter what the circumstances: adapt, reinvent and then do something spectacular,” said Rabbi Shmuel Silber, leader of the Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim in Pikesville, Maryland.

“So our synagogue has kind of adopted [a saying of] physically apart but spiritually connected,” he continued.

“And we've used that as the mantra for everything. For praying together, learning together, helping our elderly and helping those who are isolated with acts of kindness,” Silber said, adding that Baltimore hosts multiple organizations, like Ahavas Yisrael, that are dedicated to “acts of kindness.”

Sometimes, an act of kindness can be found in the simplest of places – a shopping cart, even.

Since the pandemic exploded in America, several Baltimore synagogues have banded together and launched an initiative to protect those grocery shoppers who would be at risk due to older age or pre-existing conditions.

The initiative, run by 38-year-old Dovi Ziffer, gathers a dozen volunteers at one of the kosher supermarkets in town and sends them running around the stocked aisles with a shopping list in one hand and a shopping cart in the other.

Between the bins of fresh fruit and the Passover food aisle, Dovi reiterates the rules to the volunteers and hands out the grocery lists. A few people ask questions, followed by a wave of screeching wheels as everyone heads in different directions. The volunteers weave through the aisles, pulling down cereal boxes, reaching for cartons of milk or sorting through the bushels of apples to find the best one.

“I try to pick as if I’m picking for my own family,” said volunteer Zevi Daniel as he reached for a shiny Honey Crisp apple.

“Or as if my wife is scrutinizing this,” he added with a laugh.

With his team spread out through the store, Ziffer stops to survey the land. He’s quick to note the precautions they are taking to keep both themselves and their community safe.

“We are trying to come here late in the evening when we know there's not going to be a big crowd,” said Ziffer, speaking behind a blue hospital mask in the baking aisle at Pikesville’s Market Maven.

“We're wearing gloves, wearing masks,” he added, continuing, “and there's a clear vetting process that gives clear criteria for ensuring that our people are not immunocompromised, that they don't have seasonal allergies, that they are not living in a home with somebody who’s 60 years old or that they are not traveling out of the state within the past 14 days.”

Ziffer’s team isn’t the only act of kindness in town, though.

After discovering that one of the local restaurants was struggling to make ends meet, community member Ari Gross sat down with some friends and colleagues to discuss how they as a community could help out their beloved deli, the Knish Shop. They decided to kill two birds with one stone – buy dozens of sandwiches from the deli, but then take those sandwiches and deliver them, free of charge, to the hardworking medical team at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore.

“Really within minutes, though, we had such an overwhelming response of people who wanted to be a part of it,” said Gross, who believes it’s ingrained in people to give back.

The owner of the Knish Shop, Mosie Treuhaft, said Gross’ idea couldn’t have come at a better time.

“Catering was a business we always thought was recession-proof, but we were wrong. COVID changed us,” said Treuhaft, standing behind the deli counter making a tuna wrap.

“Our main business was Bar Mitzvahs, weddings and business lunches… and all that is now [coming to] a screeching halt,” he added.

According to Gross, it costs about $1000 a day to feed the emergency room’s morning and night shifts.

“It’s just incredible. The community’s been unbelievable,” added Treuhaft, thanking Gross not just for helping his business but also for taking care of those fighting the disease on the front line.

But it’s not only the community helping the hospital – it’s also the medical staff helping the community.

Jamie Rubin, a nurse at Sinai Hospital, is part of a team that has been working with religious and community leaders to spread awareness about the novel coronavirus, and how individuals can protect themselves. Read more at ABC News