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Liam Elkind, 22, Covid Response Organizer
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HEALTH/COVID36 Under 36 2021

Liam Elkind, 22, Covid Response Organizer

@LiamElkind / @LiamElkind

The Jewish Week’s annual 36 Under 36 honors young leaders, entrepreneurs and change-makers who are making a difference in the life of Jewish New York. For the full list of this year’s “36ers,” click here.

What do you do?

I’m the co-founder and CEO of Invisible Hands, a nonprofit with thousands of volunteers delivering food and medicine to those most at-risk and in-need during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve been featured on NBC Nightly News, Fox and Friends, Andrea Mitchell Reports, Good Morning America, the Associated Press, Men’s Health, Vogue, the New Yorker, and the New York Times, among others. We’ve also received the Civil Society Award, the George H.W. Bush Points of Light Award, the 2020 Webby Award for Special Achievement, and were named among 2020’s top philanthropists by Town and Country Magazine alongside Oprah Winfrey and Dr. Anthony Fauci.

How does your Jewish identity influence your work?

In Hebrew, Liam translates to “my people.” My mother’s hope for me when I was young was that I would always find my people — that no matter where I was, or whom I was with, that I find myself in a welcoming community. My high school and college life has been devoted to bringing people closer together, forming bonds and communities, and seeking common ground on everyday issues. As Jews, we are charged with serving our community. I have tried to live up to this solemn responsibility through my organizing and volunteer work, as well as in the everyday interactions that brighten a day or bring a smile to someone’s face — small acts of kindness that, in concert, power our entire community.

Was there a formative Jewish experience that influenced your life path?

My d’var Torah at my bar mitzvah focused on good vs. evil and whether Judaism favors the intent or consequence of an action. My rabbi told me, “Good intentions are desired; but good actions are required.” Since then, I’ve tried to go beyond just thinking good thoughts and instead finding the time to put good into the world. At times when I worry if my actions have the right motivations, I try to focus on the good that I will be able to accomplish for others. It has helped center me around a mission of service.

Do you have a favorite inspiring quote?

“Your being small does not serve the world.” (Marianne Williamson)

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