Rabbi Moshe Langer (left) gives an unhoused woman a bag while Joe Gordon (center-right) talks to an unhoused man after giving him a t-shirt during Chabad of SF’s Super Soul Party, a Super Bowl watch party for people who are unhoused, in San Francisco, Feb. 11, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Rabbi Moshe Langer (left) gives an unhoused woman a bag while Joe Gordon (center-right) talks to an unhoused man after giving him a t-shirt during Chabad of SF’s Super Soul Party, a Super Bowl watch party for people who are unhoused, in San Francisco, Feb. 11, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

Chabad’s annual Super Bowl party is a win for unhoused San Franciscans

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Walter Hernandez wiped away tears as he tried on a new pair of glasses Sunday afternoon.

Hernandez, who is unhoused, had gone without glasses for nearly a year. With his new frames, he settled in to watch the Super Bowl at Chabad of SF’s annual watch party, which includes free services and food for San Franciscans in need.

Though the hometown 49ers lost in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs, the atmosphere was light and upbeat at Chabad’s South of Market shul throughout the day.

“It was beautiful,” Rabbi Moshe Langer said. “[We were] just trying to give people some respite from being out, whether [they live] in a shelter or on the streets.”

Menny Friedman (center) pumps his fist when the San Francisco 49ers score a touchdown in the Super Bowl during Chabad of SF’s Super Soul Party, Feb. 11, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Menny Friedman (center) pumps his fist when the San Francisco 49ers score a touchdown in the Super Bowl during Chabad of SF’s Super Soul Party, Feb. 11, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

Rotations of volunteers and groups of unhoused people came and went throughout the day. Free eye exams, glasses, haircuts and hygiene kits — complete with a pair of socks, shampoo, toothbrush, toothpaste and soap — were on offer, along with a buffet that included burgers and hot dogs. According to Langer, Chabad of SF served about 100 people over the day.

Hernandez sat on a couch alongside children of congregants. He pumped his fists in the air as the kids jumped up and down when the 49ers scored a touchdown.

Langer said Chabad of SF, located in an area with many visibly unhoused people on 6th Street in the SoMa district, does what it can to help both its unhoused and housed neighbors.

Every month, Chabad passes out matzah ball soup and hygiene kits for unhoused neighbors, Langer said. “And every Friday, we bring food to Jewish people, specifically, about 30 to 40 Shabbos meals weekly to their homes in the SoMa district and other parts of town. It’s called Shabbox, Shabbat in a box.”

Noah Stroe (left) checks Walter Hernandez’s eyesight during Chabad of SF’s Super Soul Party, Feb. 11, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Noah Stroe (left) checks Walter Hernandez’s eyesight during Chabad of SF’s Super Soul Party, Feb. 11, 2024. (Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)

This is Chabad of SF’s fourth Super Bowl party, through a partnership with Super Soul Party, a national organization founded by a Brooklyn Chabadnik that puts on similar charitable Super Bowl parties around the country.

Langer said he was inspired to organize the party by watching his father, Rabbi Yosef Langer, who founded Chabad of SF in the mid-1980s after a decade at Chabad of Berkeley and is known for sounding a shofar at Jewish Heritage Night games for the Giants and the Warriors.

The party lets people hang out “together just to have a good time,” Moshe Langer said. “Let’s say somebody who doesn’t have money — they can’t go into a stadium, they can’t go to a Warriors game, but making a party for people of all walks of life is just amazing.”

Aaron Levy-Wolins
Aaron Levy-Wolins

Aaron Levy-Wolins is J.'s photographer. See more of his work on Instagram @aaron_levywolins and @jewishnews_sf.