Chabad of Gilbert baked and delivered challah to Gilbert police officers. Photo courtesy of Chabad of Gilbert

As the country reels from a number of high-profile deadly encounters involving police this past month, several members of local congregations have shown appreciation for local police officers in the form of pizza, Gatorade and challah.

On July 14, volunteers of all ages from Ahavas Torah of Scottsdale attended 12 police briefings at four precincts and on July 20 met with the entire command staff at the Scottsdale Police headquarters. At these meetings, they delivered pizza, Gatorade, cards and messages of thanks. In all, they delivered 31 pizzas – 248 slices – and 176 bottles of Gatorade, according to Rabbi Ariel Shoshan, spiritual leader of Ahavas Torah and a volunteer chaplain with the Scottsdale Police Department.

“We are supremely thankful to the women and men of the Valley’s police departments for the sworn work they do daily to risk their lives to ensure the safety and security of others,” Shoshan wrote in a note to congregants. “I am proud to be associated with our own Scottsdale Police Department, and join my children and thousands of others in expressing my thanks to police officers, soldiers, veterans and firefighters each and every time our paths cross. One is not taking sides in any perceived and painful debate by being appreciative of those who run into harm’s way as they usher others away from it.  May Hashem continue to bless them with safety and success in their role to keep all people safe and prosperous.”

A total of about 80 people participated in the project, either by volunteering their time or making a financial contribution, Shoshan said. The families also toured the on-site museum.

A July 20 letter from Ahavas Torah families that was addressed to chiefs, commanders, lieutenants, sergeants, officers, aides and staff of the Scottsdale Police Department and presented at the meetings read, “Thank you for all you do every day of the year to keep our families and our community safe. We admire you for your sacrifices and courage, and we appreciate you for keeping us out of harm’s way, even as you bravely fulfill your sworn duty and run towards it. May G-d bless you and your families with Health, wellbeing and every blessing. We stand by you.”

On July 21, a Facebook post on The Scottsdale Police Department page expressed the department’s gratitude to Ahavas Torah for the “encouragement, kind words and support.”

At Chabad of Gilbert, 20 children and adults gathered at the home of Rabbi Shimi and Chavie Ash to bake challah to deliver to Gilbert police officers on July 15. The  project, coordinated by Chavie Ash, was called “Peace of Challah.” Volunteers delivered 50 challahs, along with pictures and messages of thanks from the children, to two Gilbert police stations.

Diane Faith, a board member of Congregation Beth Tefillah in Scottsdale, organized a rally  at the Phoenix Police Desert Horizon Precinct on July 11 to show support for the city’s officers and to honor the five police officers who were killed in an ambush in Dallas on July 7.

About 50 people attended the vigil over a 2-1/2 hour period, Faith said, which included the national anthem, the pledge of allegiance and a prayer led by Rabbi Pinchas Allouche of Beth Tefillah.

Faith said she was inspired to host the event because she has a family member who is an officer and knows “through him how difficult it is to see so much hatred.”

This article first appeared in the July 29, 2016 issue of Phoenix Jewish News