By COLlive reporter
San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood is witnessing the unconventional efforts of a pair of Chabad rabbis dedicated to serving their community in unique ways.
The bustling streets of downtown San Francisco, where people often find themselves in distress, compelled Rabbi Yosef Langer and his son, Rabbi Moshe Langer, to establish a presence there and serve the community.
Recognizing the importance of their role, they initiated The Giving Kitchen, an initiative that prepares and distributes free meals to the elderly and unhoused individuals. Every week, Rabbi Moshe Langer leads a team of volunteers in providing this essential service. As they pack up hot soup and hygiene kits generously donated by various sources, Rabbi Moshe Langer emphasizes the main ingredient that goes into their chicken matzo ball soup – love.
The inspiration for this program came from a powerful incident in 2018, when Rabbi Moshe witnessed his father’s act of kindness on a scorching day. Observing a person in desperate need of water, Rabbi Yosef Langer took time out of his day to offer a simple cup, ultimately saving the individual’s life. The profound impact of this encounter motivated Rabbi Moshe Langer to start The Giving Kitchen, firmly believing that even small gestures of kindness can change lives.
Rodney, one of the unhoused individuals benefitting from the initiative, expressed his gratitude for the hot soup and acknowledged its significance in his life. The leadership of Rabbi Moshe Langer also deeply inspires Karen Quastler, a volunteer who brings her group, Faithforce, to assist regularly. Quastler praises his ability to inspire others and emphasizes his positive influence on the community.
Rabbi Yosef Langer’s contributions to the community extend beyond this initiative. He played a pivotal role in establishing and supporting Chabads in northern California. In 1980, he founded the Chabad of San Francisco, one of the state’s first Chabad centers, which has since become a vital hub for community connections.
The Langers’ innovative approach also extends to sharing their Jewish heritage. Their motorized Mitzvah Cable Car has been offering tours and prayer services for the past 16 years. To ride on it, individuals must perform a random act of kindness, encouraging positive actions within the community.
Additionally, Rabbi Yosef Langer, nicknamed the “Rally Rabbi,” has been known to blow the shofar during Jewish heritage nights at San Francisco Giants games. He also initiated the annual lighting of a giant menorah on Union Square in 1975, in collaboration with music promoter Bill Graham. This event marked the first public menorah lighting outside Israel.
Recently, the father and son the “Jefferson Award winners,” a profile series on local heroes in San Francisco aired on KPIX 5 Eyewitness News. Reporter Sharon Chin showed their commitment to kindness, compassion, and community building.
For more about The Giving Kitchen, visit https://www.chabadsf.org/5349710