Over 100 Houston Jewish businesses donate to COVID-19 fund in May

Over 100 Houston Jewish businesses have donated toward COVID-19 relief funding for Houston's Jewish community. (Courtesy Eighteen36 and Mensch Out)
Over 100 Houston Jewish businesses have donated toward COVID-19 relief funding for Houston's Jewish community. (Courtesy Eighteen36 and Mensch Out)

Over 100 Houston Jewish businesses have donated toward COVID-19 relief funding for Houston's Jewish community. (Courtesy Eighteen36 and Mensch Out)

The idea that turned into the Mensch Out program began with a simple concept: aiding Jewish businesses in the Greater Houston area who may be struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, Martha Barvin formulated a list of Jewish-owned restaurants that she sent to friends and family.

Then, the idea evolved when Like Minds Communications founder Jenny Gustafson got a hold of the list, according to the program’s website, from just supporting businesses to supporting Jews facing financial impact from COVID-19.

Gustafson and her partner, Melina Soroka, pooled resources from Like Minds Communications with two other marketing agencies, Integrate Agency and Tippit & Moo, and Mensch Out was born.

“'Why don’t we put a community partnership spin on this?'” Soroka recalled asking in those initial conversations. “'How can we leverage this to help the broader community?'”


Throughout the month of May, over 100 Jewish businesses in Greater Houston pledged to donate between 5-15% of their total sales every Monday to the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and the Houston Jewish Community Foundation's COVID-19 Emergency Appeal.

The Emergency Appeal was formed through a partnership between the two Jewish organizations, which focuses on providing urgent basic needs to individuals and families, support community organizations, and help ensure the continuity and viability of Jewish life in Houston, according to the Jewish Federation website.

One of those businesses listed is bar Eighteen36, which shares a building with restaurant Roadster Grill at 2221 W. Alabama St., Houston, and which has been donating 15% of its sales.

“When you help your community, your community helps you,” Eighteen36 owner Jason Scheinthal “You have a responsibility to give money out to the community that supports you.”

The idea Scheinthal touched on is the Jewish idea of "tzedakah," a Hebrew word meaning “charitable giving,” Soroka said.

A large reason for the program’s importance, Scheinthal said, is because people who are tight on cash during the pandemic have not been able to give out their monthly contributions to the organizations.

“One of the things lost in this is that charities are suffering—the charities that support individuals in need,” Scheinthal said. “We talk a lot about how this affects our world—[businesses]—but donations are down, and it’s something we need to talk about more and emphasize more.”

Like Eighteen36, which has seen a dip in sales because of the pandemic, event planning and styling company Gem Events has faced similar hardships, owner Meg Grossman said.

“Being a business owner has been challenging,” Grossman said. “However, it’s given me an opportunity to evolve my business.”

A couple of examples include that Gem Events adapted to support Zoom parties and to provide large balloon garland installations.

The exposure Gem Events gained from donating to the Mensch Out program has also helped.

“I just love that the agencies are working together during this time and just supporting local Jewish Houstonians,” Grossman said. “Industries, including mine, have been impacted, and bringing any awareness during this time is a godsend.”


It is unclear if the program will continue into future months, though it is being considered, Soroka said, and will be revisited with participating businesses.
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


MOST RECENT

Council Member Letitia Plummer presented budget amendments calling for police reforms June 4 in the wake of widespread public outcry following the death of George Floyd. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Houston City Council member calls for reduction in police positions, tougher oversight and more training

The proposals are the first set of reforms to be formally put forward by a city council member.

METRO’s 402 Bellaire Quickline bus route will resume limited operation June 8. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
METRO to resume Bellaire Quickline service June 8

METRO is gradually expanding services after restricting routes amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

Texas Medical Center sees first significant increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in several weeks

The uptick also comes as more ICU beds are in use than previous weeks.

Demonstrators gathered at the Texas Capitol on May 31 to protest police brutality. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Protests throughout Houston and more: Popular stories from this week

Read the latest news from the Greater Houston area on Community Impact Newspaper’s website.

Raveneaux Country Club was one of thousands of properties that flooded during Hurricane Harvey in 2017. (Courtesy Harris County Flood Control District)
Houston Office of Emergency Management shares hurricane prep tips as Gulf storm nears landfall

With a storm brewing in the Gulf of Mexico and expected to make landfall in Louisiana by Sunday and with a global pandemic still spreading, officials and residents are changing how they prepare for a more active hurricane season.

SNAP, a federal program overseen in Texas by the HHSC, assists around 1.4 million eligible low-income individuals and families statewide. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Emergency SNAP food benefits extended in Texas during COVID-19 pandemic

SNAP assists around 1.4 million eligible low-income individuals and families in Texas.

As of June 4, 14 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed and 56 residents and staff are being monitored at the center. (Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: Outbreak reported at Humble rehab facility

As of June 4, 14 COVID-19 deaths have been confirmed and 56 residents and staff are being monitored at the center.

Houston ISD
Houston ISD slashes funds for proposed raises with 'cautious approach' to 2020-21 budget

"We're on our own right now," Chief Financial Officer Glenn Reed told trustees at the June 4 workshop.

I-69/Loop 610
Total shutdown: All lanes of I-69 Southwest Freeway will be closed at Loop 610 on June 5-8

The shutdown begins at 9 p.m. Friday, June 5 until 5 a.m. Monday, June 8.

Montrose is getting its own farmers market starting June 7. (Courtesy Pexels)
New weekly farmers market debuts in Montrose this weekend

The organizer of the Braeswood Farmers Market is bringing a new market to Montrose area.

CMS also unveiled an interactive map that lets users search any nursing home in the U.S. to see its COVID-19 cases. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
CMS reports 321 coronavirus deaths in Texas nursing homes, nearly 32,000 nationwide

CMS also unveiled an interactive map that lets users search any nursing home in the U.S. to its COVID-19 cases.

While the Texas Supreme Court's 15th Emergency Order issued May 14 allowed residential eviction proceedings to resume statewide beginning May 19 following a two-month hiatus, the order does not require those proceedings to resume. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Hidalgo, Turner request eviction moratorium be extended through Aug. 24

In hopes of avoiding a new wave of homelessness plaguing Harris County, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo have requested all justices of the peace countywide to postpone eviction hearings until late August.