In the bible’s New Testament book of Luke, Jesus is asked “who is my neighbor?’ The question was asked regarding the scriptural mandate to “love thy neighbor.” Jesus responded with a parable about a Good Samaritan whom helped a stranger in need when others who came before him just passed him by. As the tale goes, the man that the Samaritan helped was Jewish and in those days, the Jewish and Samaritan people did not associate with each other. That didn’t stop the Samaritan from helping the Jewish man that had been robbed and beaten nearly to death. This act was exceptional and extraordinary. Today the expression of a Good Samaritan represents a compassionate person who unselfishly helps others, even complete strangers. For some the instinct to act immediately in crisis to help those in crisis is automatic. In fact, a Good Samaritan’s drive to help doesn’t end in crisis because these are people who usually give to others that have less or need more. Do Good Samaritans still exist? Thankfully they do and I’ve met a few that I’d like to introduce you to.
Jan Maloff, Funeral Director at A. Dewitt Memorial Funeral Home and Moises Rivera Jr., Pastor at El Movimiento Cristiano y la Gran Synagoga on Grace St. are two Good Samaritans in Syracuse, NY. Both come from different cultural backgrounds but each share a love and compassion for the Latino community. They also bonded together about their recent weight loss efforts and desire to live a healthier life. A special ongoing project that Jan uses his own resources to give back to the community is the bicycle giveaway. Jan and a team of volunteers (also Good Samaritans) fix bikes that would otherwise be unusable and headed to the dump. Jan says he did a study about the Westside residents recently that confirmed a trend which is that most residents ride bikes to get around instead of a car or public transportation. Riding bikes are a favorite pastime for children of all ages. Unfortunately, many families can’t afford to buy or fix one themselves. It made sense to Jan to expand and offer the bicycle giveaway project to various locations in Syracuse and times of the year. This year for the first time, bikes were refurbished for and distributed to Riveras’ congregation. The event was held at the church after worship services on Saturday, June 7th.
The congregation was grateful to Jan and their pastor, Moises, for teaming up to do this event. Children and adults looked at the selection and picked out the bike that best suited them. Some adults were as giddy as the children as they mounted their bikes to ride them home. It was wonderful to witness the joy this event brought to so many. Jan and his volunteers didn’t speak Spanish but they didn’t need to. The smiles and happiness of the people who were able to have a bike, some for the very first time was understood and acknowledged with a smile.
This article was translated into Spanish by Alexis Ríos