After COVID-19 vaccines started becoming available in New York and it quickly became apparent that securing a vaccine appointment presented a huge challenge, thew Young Israel of Oceanside and the Young Israel of West Hempstead sprang into action.
YI Oceanside members Leah Klayman and Bea Mauskopf established the Oceanside Vaccination Station WhatsApp group which grew to over 150 members, each committed to helping people make appointments.
The WhatsApp group began as a discussion among Oceanside community members that focused on helping elderly people who did not have access to computers or the ability to book vaccine appointments. Volunteers helped people secure appointments and figure out the logistics of getting to and from their appointments. Available appointments found online by the volunteers were promptly posted to the WhatsApp group.
“The Oceanside Vaccination Station WhatsApp group continued growing, and people who were part of other groups helped share availability, enabling every person who wanted a vaccine, to get one,” said Klayman. “My goal for the group was to get as many people appointments or accessibility as possible, and to enable people to return to some kind of normalcy.”
Even after eligibility and accessibility expanded considerably, the WhatsApp group continues to serve the younger members of the community, and even those who already had their shots continue to share relevant links and information on the chat.
“The Young Israel of Oceanside kehillah is a very tight knit community, always ready to act if someone is in need,” said Mauskopf. “This chat has been a lifesaver and I am proud that we obtained appointments for all who wanted them. I feel very lucky to be a part of our Young Israel of Oceanside family.”
Mauskopf noted that children who lived outside the community called them and asked if they could help their parents who lived in Oceanside. Moreover, Rabbi Jonathan Muskat and Rebbetzin Dr. Yael Muskat worked diligently to seek out available appointments, and many people were able to get the vaccine due to the efforts and the information they posted in the WhatsApp group.
Klayman and Mauskopf also noted the key role played by YI Oceanside member Chavi Langer, who spearheaded the creation of the shul’s various WhatsApp groups, which have brought the community closer together by providing avenues for people to help each other, share information and socialize.
YI West Hempstead also played a big role in helping its community members get the COVID-19 vaccine when it hosted a vaccine clinic on April 11, which led to a 450 people getting vaccinated.
“It was wonderful feeling seeing so many from our community coming together to make sure it was such a successful day,” said YI West Hempstead President Arthur Cooperberg. “Our community continues to show that when put to the task, we all come together.”
“The sense of caring, camaraderie and collaboration that Young Israel synagogues have displayed throughout the pandemic is extraordinary,” said NCYI President Rabbi David Warshaw. “When faced with a challenge, our synagogues responded with alacrity and committed themselves to helping others, which truly epitomizes what community is all about.” -—NCYI