Skip To Content
Fast Forward

Meet the Hasidim who went to DC after Jan. 6 to give thanks — and chocolate — to the National Guard

On the day Joe Biden was inaugurated as president, the streets of downtown Washington were nearly empty of well-wishers and tourists. In their place: National Guard troops. The nation was still reeling from the deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol earlier that month.

But there was one group of visitors who were not sporting camouflage. A handful of Hasidic men from New York spent the day –- and well into the night –- driving around the edges of the security zone in a pickup truck stocked with $10,000 worth of energy drinks, chocolate bars and toiletries, and handed them out to the troops deployed to protect the inauguration and federal buildings. Those soldiers were pulling tough 12-hour shifts in cold weather and taking rest breaks in parking garages.

“I felt that these soldiers, being in Washington to protect and defend democracy, were owed a tremendous amount of gratitude and appreciation and therefore needed our support,” said Aron Wieder, a Rockland County legislator who was part of the group, in an interview ahead of the anniversary of the Jan. 6 riots.

U.S. Capitol on Jan. 2021

The U.S. Capitol on Jan. 5, 2021 Image by Jacob Kornbluh

Wieder, a Democrat, said watching video of the Capitol under siege was just “chilling and eerie and the feeling was of complete chaos.”

He decided he had to do something — support the soldiers guarding the city.

Wieder teamed up with Alexander Rapaport, a Hasid from Borough Park and founder of Masbia Soup Kitchen, as well as the Colorado Security Agency, a D.C.-based firm that footed the bill for the PPE, toiletries, energy drinks, energy bars and chocolates which they loaded up in a van and drove to D.C.

Alexander Rapaport, a Hasid from Borough Park and founder of Masbia Soup Kitchen, handing out candy bars to the national guard in Washington DC on Jan. 20, 2021

Image by Courtesy

“We just went around the outer perimeters and said, ‘We brought you some love from Brooklyn,’” Rapaport recalled.

The reaction was overwhelming, Wieder said. “They really enjoyed it and said, ‘This is just what we needed.’ Some even wanted to take pictures with us.”

Wieder noted that his four grandparents were rescued by the 3rd Infantry Division of the U.S. Army during the liberation of the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp in 1945. “I will never miss an opportunity to say thank you to you guys and what you are standing for,” he recalled telling the troops.

Alexander Rapaport, a Hasid from Borough Park and founder of Masbia Soup Kitchen, handing out candy bars to the national guard in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 20, 2021

Alexander Rapaport, founder of Masbia Soup Kitchen, handing out candy bars to the troops in Washington DC on Jan. 20, 2021 Image by Courtesy

Rapapport said that while he was shaken by the riot at the Capitol on Jan. 6, he felt hopeful with the eventual transition of power. He returned to D.C. days later after restocking the van in New York.

Both he and Wieder said that they hoped that their obviously Jewish appearance sent a message, that “the Jewish people support our servicemen and women and value the stability of our nation.”

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.