If ever the time was ripe to reach out and help our friends and neighbors, it’s now, at this hour of widespread isolation. That’s why UJA-Federation of New York has sent 2,000 pounds of dates to the Council of Peoples Organization (COPO), a Brooklyn-based nonprofit that supports low-income Muslim immigrant families.

Dates are traditionally consumed to break the daily fast of Ramadan, a month-long observance in the Islamic calendar; however, food banks have struggled to secure this particular fruit amid increased cost and demand during the pandemic. In response, UJA’s donation to COPO’s food pantry will help 1,000 New York City Muslim families keep tradition throughout Ramadan, which runs April 23 – May 23, 2020. The donation — sourced from UJA’s nonprofit partner Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty — sends a reassuring message to our interfaith neighbors that we are all in this together.

Mohammad Razvi, COPO’s executive director, stated: “Low-income and immigrant families in New York continue to be among the hardest hit populations of Covid-19, and now, thanks to UJA-Federation of New York, Muslims across the city will enjoy these dates and feel a sense of dignity while they honor their heritage throughout the observance.”

Razvi echoes a sentiment shared by the Jewish community during Passover last month — a yearning for the familiar, for continuity, during this time of uncertainty and upheaval. As with the 8,000+ seder meals UJA sponsored just weeks before, the 2,000 pounds of dates offer a sense of comfort, and perhaps even stability, derived from time-honored customs.

“As Jews, we deeply appreciate the significance that religious and cultural traditions have in our lives, especially during times of struggle,” said Eric S. Goldstein, CEO, UJA-Federation of New York, “and hope that this donation will help families most in need enjoy their most treasured traditions.”

As this hope bears fruit, another seed will be planted: that of a stronger, more collaborative interfaith community across New York. And like so many first dates, this one is full of anticipation.