Beth-El fund renamed to honor a beloved volunteer

0
Beth-El fund renamed to honor a beloved volunteer
After serving Easter dinner at St. Aloysius, Temple Beth-El Brotherhood members, including Stuart Lubert (center), were inspired to help even more by distributing fresh produce through the church’s Interfaith Food Pantry. Photo by Barbara Herman

Temple Beth-El’s Board of Trustees approved the renaming of one of the temple’s tribute funds.

In honor of one of its biggest supporters, the Brotherhood Interfaith Food Pantry will now be known as the Brotherhood Stuart Lubert Interfaith Food Pantry Fund.

Lubert, a driving force behind Brotherhood’s efforts to bolster the St. Aloysius Roman Catholic Church Interfaith Food Pantry, passed suddenly in March.

“Stuart was always tirelessly working to have the pantry supported by both the congregation and the community through writing grants and getting the backing of temple leadership. He was always telling the story of how those less fortunate needed help putting food on their table,” said former Brotherhood President Allan Lowenkron.

“My girls and I are so honored that Stuart will be memorialized by such a beautiful tribute,” said wife, Sandy Lubert. “Brotherhood has been such a big part of our lives, and Stuart was thrilled to be able to channel his love of tikkun olam [improving the world] through this wonderful organization.”

Until about 10 years ago, Temple Beth-El Brotherhood members volunteered to prepare Easter dinner at The INN in Hempstead, cooking and carving around 65 turkeys to feed 400 to 500 homeless people each year.

When The INN’s volunteer requirements became more complicated, former Brotherhood President Steven Koteen suggested serving Easter dinner locally at St. Aloysius instead, and his friend Stuart Lubert thought it was a great idea.

“What started as an Easter meal grew to include a July Fourth barbecue, temple food drives and eventually a program to provide fresh fruits and vegetables on a bimonthly basis,” pointed out former Brotherhood President Matthew Moshen. “But, for Stuart, that wasn’t enough. He was always coming up with different ways to supply the St. Aloysius food pantry with nonperishable milk, gift cards from supermarkets and local restaurants, non-kosher food that wound up at the Orthodox pantry, turkeys from the Rotary Club of Great Neck and many other things.”

Once Brotherhood joined forces with the food pantry, Koteen and Lubert came up with the idea to add fresh produce and found supplier Krystal Fruits and Vegetables to meet their needs.

“Stuart and I were partners in this endeavor,” said Steven Koteen. “We were like brothers in this.”

At first, Brotherhood began buying $400 worth of produce every two weeks. Then Rabbis Emeriti Meir and Tara Feldman endorsed the effort and invited Koteen and Lubert to speak to the congregation about the food pantry during the High Holidays.

“A congregant offered a $10,000 matching donation,” said Koteen. “Brotherhood, Temple Beth-El and the congregants were—and still are—very supportive, enabling Brotherhood to spend an average of $1,200 every other week on fresh fruits and vegetables.”

Before COVID, 50 families regularly benefited from the pantry. That figure more than doubled to 125 families during the pandemic. The need has since dropped slightly, and the pantry now regularly serves around 85 or 90 local families every other week.

“What’s important to remember about Stuart’s efforts at St. Aloysius is that he was always thinking ahead about new ways that Brotherhood and the congregation could help support those in our community who use the Interfaith Food Pantry,” said Moshen. “That’s what I’ll remember most about Stuart and St. Aloysius. He would say: ‘OK, fine. What’s next? What can we do now?’ ”

St. Aloysius was so grateful for the assistance that it named the pantry the Brotherhood Interfaith Food Pantry.

With Lubert’s passing, the temple’s tribute fund recognizes his efforts further, with the fund renaming it the Brotherhood Stuart Lubert Interfaith Food Pantry Fund.

“Stuart and I spoke on the phone almost every day,” revealed Koteen. “During almost every conversation, Stuart would always ask, ‘How can I make this better?’ He’s as good a human as I have ever met. He made me a better person from being best friends with him. It was such a loss to his family, me and the whole community. We should be proud of what we do because we’re helping a lot of people.”

You, too, can help feed the hungry in Great Neck by contributing to the Brotherhood Interfaith Food Pantry at www.TBEFoodPantry.org.

Founded in 1928, the peninsula’s first synagogue is located at 5 Old Mill Road in Great Neck. To learn more, call 516-487-0900, visit www.tbegreatneck.org or email [email protected].

No posts to display

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here