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Put safety first this High Holiday season with the Orthodox Union’s reflective belts

The Orthodox Union is offering free reflective belts to shuls to protect congregants walking back from shul during the high holidays.

The Orthodox Union’s reflective belt, meant to protect pedestrians walking home from shul at night from vehicles. Photo courtesy of Orthodox Union.
The Orthodox Union’s reflective belt, meant to protect pedestrians walking home from shul at night from vehicles. Photo courtesy of Orthodox Union.

The high holiday season means that hundreds of people will be walking home from shul at night several times a week. Many congregants will be dressed in dark clothing, making them nearly invisible to drivers, and posing great risk of serious injury. The best way to address this danger? A reflective belt.

In 2019, the Orthodox Union’s department of Community Projects & Partnerships launched a safety initiative to provide reflective belts free of charge to all shuls in the OU’s synagogue network. The department’s mission is to enhance Jewish communal life through strengthening community leaders, organizations and infrastructure; confronting ongoing communal challenges; and responding to crises and natural disasters. Four years later, over 40,000 belts have been distributed to close to 400 shuls throughout North America.

The program is sponsored by Drs. Evelyn and Larry Kraut of Fair Lawn, New Jersey, as an expression of hakarat hatov to Hakadosh Baruch Hu for Larry’s recovery from a serious motor vehicle accident as a pedestrian. While walking home from shul on a Friday night in 2018, despite having the right of way, he was hit by an SUV. His injuries were severe and he required spinal surgery.

“The concern for safety when walking home at night has led us to this pragmatic solution,” said Larry. “We pray that no one should, G-d forbid, go through such a terrible experience. Toward that end, wearing reflective gear—like these reusable belts—will significantly reduce and hopefully prevent such occurrences. Evelyn and I are thankful and consider it a great zechut to sponsor this important safety program.”

Rebbetzin Judi Steinig, senior director of the OU’s department of Community Projects & Partnerships, noted, “The OU is privileged to be part of such an important safety drive. We appreciate the generosity of the Krauts in enabling the OU to provide the belts to synagogues for their congregants to use year-round. We urge everyone to wear them when walking at night – definitely during the high holidays, but especially when it’s dark earliest, during the winter months.”

To join this life-saving initiative, order reflective belts for your shul free of charge at ou.org/community/ou-shul-reflectorbelts/.

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Founded in 1898, the Orthodox Union (OU), or Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, serves as the voice of American Orthodox Jewry, with over 400 congregations in its synagogue network. As the umbrella organization for American Orthodox Jewry, the OU is at the forefront of advocacy work on both state and federal levels, outreach to Jewish teens and young professionals through NCSY, Israel Free Spirit Birthright, Yachad and OU Press, among many other divisions and programs.
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