Read the article below, written by Jason Flatt, in the Food Tank, to find out more about which other organizations, besides Masbia Soup Kitchen Network are feeding the needy during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Let all who are hungry come and eat.” Every year at Passover, Jews around the world reaffirm their commitment to welcoming strangers to their Seder and providing food for anybody in need. These 18 Jewish organizations live by that mantra all year long.
Whether they are Jewish organizations, organizations serving Jews, or inspired by Jewish values, the organizations on this list are finding ever-creative ways to feed all who are hungry in every corner of the world.
1. American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) rallies the resources of the global Jewish community to assist Jews and other peoples around the world in distress. For more than a century JDC’s work has been powered by agencies and partners around the world that provide direct humanitarian aid to elderly Jews and families living in poverty. These programs provide food aid among other health and wellbeing necessities to underserved communities. When direct aid becomes impossible due to threats of anti-Semitism, violence, or social and economic upheaval, JDC rescues and relocates Jewish communities to more secure homes.
2. The Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina
The Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) is a beacon of community life and social service, serving Bueno Aires for more than a century. In 1994, AMIA was the victim of one of the worst acts of international terrorism in Argentina’s history. In spite of its harrowed history, AMIA continues to thrive as it puts Jewish values of justice, tradition, and equality into practice. AMIA’s team of social workers and psychologists provide food, housing, health, and employment assistance to as many families and seniors as possible.
3. Bikur Cholim of Detroit
In Detroit, Michigan, Bikur Cholim of Detroit provides meals to people receiving care in the region’s hospitals. For Bikur Cholim of Detroit, the Jewish value Bikur Cholim, caring for the sick, extends to the families of the sick too. The organization prepares lunches for the parents of children in hospital care and delivers meals to the homes of people in acute care. Bikur Cholim of Detroit also arranges Shabbat dinners for hospital patients and their families while helping to arrange transportation, respite, and hospitality for patients’ family members.
4. Chabad Beijing
Chabad Beijing represents the edict of “let all who are hungry come and eat” by serving kosher dining options to international travelers. Situated near the Beijing airport and many hotels, the Chabad center and Dini’s Kosher Restaurant housed there are essential services for travelers in need of kosher food while in the nation’s capital. Chabad Beijing also services about 2,000 Jews living in Beijing and gladly welcomes anybody for a Shabbat dinner.
5. Chicken Soup Shelter
London’s Chicken Soup Shelter serves hot, kosher meals to over a hundred guests a day. Recognizing that not everybody has the means or willingness to eat at the soup kitchen, they also operate meals on wheels program. Chicken Soup Shelter’s meals on wheels support elderly Londoners as well as families without the time or means to procure food.
6. Emma’s Torch
Emma’s Torch was founded in 2016 by Kerry Brodie, who drew inspiration from Emma Lazarus’s The Colossus, Shabbat dinners from her childhood, and a family history of Holocaust survivors. The dual culinary school-restaurant enterprise provides refugees living in New York City with vocational training and job experience. Their students come from more than 35 countries all over the world. Their cultural diversity helps make Emma’s Torch’s training curriculum and robust restaurant menu reflective of the city’s vast array of pallets.
7. Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS
Across the Former Soviet Union, the Federation of Jewish Communities of the CIS (FJC) assists over 2 million Jews and their communities throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States. FJC supports a network of 40 certified kosher soup kitchens in areas where kosher meals are not easily accessible. Alongside their partner, the International Fellowship of Christians, FJC plans to open as many more soup kitchens as possible. The two organizations also work together to distribute food parcels to families with children in need across the Former Soviet Union. The ultimate goal is for direct food assistance to help families afford to keep their children in school.
8. Gabriel Project Mumbai
The Gabriel Project Mumbai in Maharashtra, India provides nutrition and healthcare to over 1,000 students a week through its partner schools. This approach provides hot, nutritious meals for children while keeping students enrolled in school. The Gabriel Project emphasizes access to fruit and safe drinking water. Young Jewish Indian professionals and undergraduate student interns staff the Gabriel Project.
9. Hungarian Jewish Social Assistance
The Jaffe Jewish Family Helper program from Hungarian Jewish Social Assistance (MAZS) has a dedicated team of social workers who provide one-on-one assistance to families in central Hungary. MAZS was originally founded to support Holocaust survivors with needs ranging from social services to socialization. Today, MAZS provides services to the entire community. The Narancsliget Endowment Center, a community thrift store, helps fund the Jaffe Jewish Family Helper program as well as other social services throughout the region. The Jaffe Jewish Family Helper program also connects children to MAZS’s summer camp program in Kishunhalas for year-round access to food and fun.
In New South Wales, Australia, JewishCares supports families with food parcels and home-cooked meals. The organization also ensures that children in need have strong role models. JewishCares’s Big Brothers Big Sisters program, its mentorship programs for older children, and its girls’ programs strive to uplift children facing challenges at home, helping them develop confidence and build community.
11. Jewish Farmers Network
The Jewish Farmers Network started when a group of Jewish farmers identified a need for communal and technical resources geared towards farming while Jewish. Their efforts coalesced around a conference held in February 2020 where Jewish farmers came together to share farm skills and hone in on food justice. The Jewish Farmers Network helps Jewish farmers share ideas and practices for imbuing their work with Jewish values and farming tradition
Masbia is a certified kosher soup kitchen network and food pantry in Brooklyn and Queens, New York City. While an essential service for kosher-keeping Jewish residents of New York City, Masbia is committed to serving hot meals to all who come through their doors. Masbia serves about 2,000 dinners a week in its three restaurant-style kitchens and provides emergency grocery packages for families through its food pantry. The packages include three days’ worth of food per family member. Masbia creatively supplements its operating costs through an online Judaica and book shop.
13. MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger
MAZON, A Jewish Response To Hunger is at the forefront of anti-hunger and food justice policy advocacy in the U.S. MAZON partners with Jewish communities and other Jewish organizations across the country to educate them about the realities of food insecurity. They also rally support for direct relief and policy initiatives on all levels of government. MAZON embodies the mantra of “let all who are hungry come and eat” by advocating for policies that support often overlooked populations, including veterans, seniors, Native Americans, and college students. This year, MAZON has also made Passover materials, including several video teachings from Jewish clergy partners and a customized Haggadah, available online.
14. The Network of Jewish Human Services Agencies
The Network of Jewish Human Services Agencies is an umbrella organization for more than 140 Jewish family and child service agencies across the U.S., Canada, and Israel. Its member organizations provide social services and operate kosher food banks. Many member organizations also offer immigration and bilingual social services to all members of their communities, embodying the Jewish value of “welcoming the stranger.”
15. Nonna Betta
Nonna Betta is a kosher-style restaurant in Rome, Italy that is both a reminder of the rich communal history of Italy’s Jewish ghettos and a testament to the Jewish people’s ability to overcome hundreds of years of oppression within the walls of their own city. The restaurant’s decorations celebrate the richly communal aspects of ghetto life. Today, they take pride in carrying on Jewish traditions. They hope to inspire the same sense of community among the restaurant’s patrons that the owner’s ancestors enjoyed long ago.
In Chile, Reshet delivers boxes of kosher food and personal hygiene supplies to families in need. In addition to feeding people food, Reshet is also committed to feeding people’s souls. Volunteers can drive folks to and from medical appointments or simply keep them company. Reshet believes that spending time with people in need can make all the difference.
17. Tikkun Olam Ventures
Tikkun Olam Ventures (TOV) is a project of the Joint Distribution Committee that connects small-scale farmers in Ethiopia to Israeli agricultural technology. TOV aims to aid 25,000 farmers over a five-year period with loans supported by local Ethiopian banks. Borrowers are connected with opportunities to purchase irrigation supplies, fertilizer, seeds, and technical training. Local farmers’ unions then help the farmers sell their products. When their loans are repaid, the money is reinvested back into TOV to be issued to more farmers.
18. Yaz Ezra V’Shulamit
Yad Ezra V’Shulamit feeds Israel’s hungry children. Since 1998, they have provided breakfast for school children and formula, food, and diapers for babies. They also supply baskets of food to impoverished families, especially around holidays like Passover when families enjoy specific, traditional foods. Recognizing that hunger will persist without addressing poverty as a root cause, Yad Ezra also provides employment assistance. The organization lives by the line from the Torah “if your brother becomes impoverished and loses the ability to support himself with you, you must come to his aid, help him survive,” Leviticus 25:35.
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