“Bashert” is a Yiddish term, meaning a soulmate who is "meant to be."
April Glasco, the founder and CEO of Second Chance Last Opportunity, was "bashert" indeed when she spoke Jan. 6 at Temple Beth Israel’s Shabbat service.
“I didn’t know she was going to be here tonight,” said Rabbi Howard Simon of Sarasota's Temple Emanu-El. “We came here tonight because it’s the anniversary of my brother’s death, and I want to say kaddish (mourner’s prayer) for my brother, and my April is standing here, and I think 'Oh, my lord.'"
The two traveled to Israel together and laughed heartily over the looks they received, but the odd couple wasn’t traveling alone. Simon led three trips to Israel for non-Jewish clergy and community leaders.
He took between 30 to 40 people on each trip. One year, there were a number of Catholic clergy in attendance who, upon seeing the Jordan River, wanted to be baptized again. The question was who would perform the baptism.
“They looked at me and said, ‘You know we talked it over. Jesus was a rabbi, you’re a rabbi, you’ll do,’” Simon said. “I did the prayers for the Catholics as they got baptized. They were special, special journeys.”
Simon invited Glasco along in 2010 after hearing about her contributions to Sarasota’s Newtown community. SCLO opened in 1995 and has continued to expand its outreach services since. Plans for 2023 include moving their emergency food services into an air conditioned building.
“Our clients come from a dark pit of hopelessness to being no longer homeless and to seeing a better and brighter future. They move from not eating for days to having healthy food to eat,” Glasco said. “The greatest principle that they have learned through Second Chance is love, peace and hope. Individuals are provided with tools and skills to be encouraged to further their education, live a better life and become a productive citizen.”
Temple members started supporting SCLO in 2020 through the Flanzer Trust Match program and donations of food and clothing every six weeks.