Jews across the world experienced a Lag BaOmer like no other this year, as the coronavirus pandemic curtailed celebrations, bonfires, and field trips. But the students of Yeshiva Toras Emes in Los Angeles were able to enjoy some semblance of festivities, thanks to the dedication of the hanhalah and a generous local teen.
On Sunday, two days before Lag BaOmer, Rabbi Shea Goldenberg, a menahel in the yeshivah, reached out to Joey Brecher, the 19-year-old owner of Concessioneer, which provides concession products like popcorn and cotton candy machines for parties, and asked if Joey could put together something on short notice for the boys of the yeshiva.
Joey quickly hired two workers to spin 500 rolls of cotton candy on Monday; the popcorn was made fresh on Lag BaOmer.
At 1:00 p.m. Tuesday afternoon, the first cars of parents and excited students began driving up to the yeshiva. With festive music blasting in the background, the hanhalah, along with Joey, his workers and volunteer students, all wearing masks and gloves and adhering to social-distancing guidelines, gave the occupants of each car a roll of cotton candy and box of popcorn, ultimately distributing 500 of each.
This was the first time the students saw their menahelim in person since California schools were closed in March.
“This was such a beautiful opportunity to be able to see the talmidim, even for just a few moments,” Rabbi Shea Goldenberg told Hamodia on Wednesday. “It was wonderful to see their smiles – even through the masks.”
The yeshiva covered half the costs; Joey contributed the other half.
This is not the first time Joey Brecher has distributed items to people in cars during the pandemic. In March, Joey gave free rolls of scarce toilet paper and paper towels to drivers in Los Angeles; pictures of his good deed appeared in newspapers and websites across the world.
Joey, whose machines have been idle during the shutdown, told Hamodia on Wednesday that he was pleased to be able to put them to good use.
“I was very happy to receive the phone call from Rabbi Goldenberg, and help make the children happy – their parents, too,” he said.
“It’s hard for kids to get out of the house these days; people are suffering from cabin fever. I’m glad the kids were able to have some enjoyment this Lag BaOmer. It’s great to see smiles on people’s faces during these difficult times.”