The containers of homemade lentil soup in the Temple’s freezer are just one sign of Matthew Katinsky’s desire to tend to the needs of the community. So are the phone calls he regularly makes to check on congregants who have had surgery and the offers of meals to families facing a challenging situation.
In the time he’s chaired the Caring Committee, Matthew has offered computer assistance that enabled a hospitalized member to watch a webcast of his son’s band competition. He connected an elderly member with someone who could assist in hauling paint and other chemicals in preparation for a move. And he helped encourage members to send jokes to cheer an ailing congregant.
“Offering meals and rides and minyans are standard things to help each other and are important,” said Matthew, a Temple board member and co-advisor of the Junior Youth Group. “The odd things we do along the way — you never know when or what will help — have incredible impact.”
Matthew stresses, though, that he doesn’t do it alone. He notes that our members have been helping others within our Temple family for a long time when aware of a situation. One reason he said he got involved is to give back for the outpouring of support last year when his wife, Nola, and daughter, Hannah, were in a car accident.
What is new, he said, is that the Caring Committee now is trying to fill the gap to reach out to the elderly or those whose families aren’t nearby or whose needs may not always be visible. He’s also growing a team of those who are ready to help.
So far, Matthew has enlisted 55 volunteers who are “on-call” to respond if the Caring Committee identifies a need. He said he’d “love for everyone to be a volunteer” and is looking for people who have the enthusiasm, desire and time to help makes calls.
Melissa Kessel also continues her long-time commitment to sending cards and notes to Temple members who are celebrating a simcha or facing a challenge. Matthew also stays in touch with Rabbi Cattapan to support his efforts.
To Matthew, who moved to Fort Wayne about five years ago with his wife, daughter and son, Joseph, one of the keys to living a Jewish life is the focus on communal responsiblity. That desire to tend to the needs of the community as a whole is what inspired him to get involved.
“I think it’s an important part of what defines being Jewish,” said Matthew, who is a Geographic Information Systems programmer. “It’s difficult to do in this modern age when we don’t all live next to each other and don’t always know what’s going on in each other’s lives and we are always concerned about privacy.”