When the ceiling came down at the Breadberry supermarket in a Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood where I work, it was just one more devastating blow to a community already ravaged by COVID-19. But amid this tragedy – just as this community has done countless times before – something beautiful emerged, giving everyone hope and comfort.
In March, when the pandemic exploded in New York City, life in this bustling district came to a screeching halt. For the Jewish community in and around Borough Park, COVID-19 hit just before Passover, a sacred holiday in the Jewish calendar. During the height of Passover preparations, Coronavirus essentially shut down the City, causing many businesses – including kosher stores – to close their doors.
With families being separated during Passover, and news of rabbis, friends, and family succumbing to the disease every day, morale continued to plummet.
Even through those darkest days, the Breadberry kosher supermarket didn’t shut down. They went to work, feeding not only those in Borough Park, but thousands of people throughout Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Every day, new customers flooded the store with requests, many of whom were new customers with nowhere else to turn. Everyone worked tirelessly, spending long days fulfilling the needs of the communities. Samuel Gluck, the owner of the market, himself was at the registers each day, with a big, clear face shield, smiling and helping to pack big boxes of food for Shabbos tables and boost employee morale.
Finally, after many weeks of fear, sadness, and exhaustingly long days, lockdowns lifted, and life in Brooklyn began to return to some semblance of normal.
Then it happened.
On July 17, Sam received a phone call.
“It’s collapsing,” the voice on the other end cried. Part of the ceiling suffered significant collapse. And while no one was injured, our supermarket sustained considerable damage. Rubble lined the aisles and dust covered the shelves.
The next morning, news of the collapse began to spread. Pictures of firefighters walking through the rubble and of the blue tarp stretched across the once vibrant, all-glass storefront were posted all over social media. The future of this iconic supermarket – one that had survived the hardest days of the pandemic – seemed uncertain. For this tight-knit community, it was yet one more devastating blow in a series of many.
Sam, knowing what his store meant to his employees and the communities throughout New York City, wanted to rebuild as quickly as possible. However, planning commissions, permit offices, and contractors were all facing significant slowdowns. Everyone was getting more anxious about their future by the minute.
One night, tired, defeated, and unsure, I was home talking with my husband about the store’s plight. “They need permits and blueprints to rebuild,” I said. “And who knows how long that will take?”
Unbeknownst to me, my daughter, who excels in her ability to pretend that she is asleep, was wide awake listening to us talk in the next room. Just as my husband and I were about to call it a night, she sheepishly walked into the kitchen, holding a couple of sheets of paper in one hand and a marker in another.
“Here are the blueprints for Breadberry. I don’t know what permits are, so I didn’t know how to draw them.”
As she handed the drawings to me, I saw a drawing of a store, complete with slides, parking for kick scooters, and orange balloons at the checkout counter for kids to take home.
As she told me later, she had a “light bulb” moment, slid off the bed quietly so we wouldn’t yell and made her way to her table with markers.
I took out my phone, snapped photos of the drawings, and sent them to my team at Breadberry, saying “Ha, I already got the remodeling blueprints!”
By the next morning, this became a movement. Everyone’s children were sending in their drawings, too
The drawings became a source of hope and happiness for the Breadberry owners, employees, and customers. Soon, dozens of pictures from children throughout the area covered the storefront. Now, the entire community has become involved, creating an impromptu art exhibit featuring childhood imagination and positivity at its finest—a mural of hope that brings happiness to everyone who walks past the market.
As they begin the rebuilding process, the Breadberry market hopes to continue collecting “blueprints” from children far and wide. Once construction is complete, the drawings will become part of a permanent display, highlighting the perseverance, imagination, vision, and love of the human spirit.
If your child wants to be a part of the #RebuildBreadberry art wall, we can’t wait to see and display their imaginative and colorful pieces!
Please send them to us by
Mail: Breadberry Art Wall 1689 60th street Brooklyn NY 11218
Instagram: @BreadberryNY use #RebuildBreadberry
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