Brooklyn, NY -- Masbia's quest for a Sukkah to feed the needy brings the first three-way partnership between Masbia of Boro Park, a Kosher soup kitchen and food pantry; Congregation Shomrei Shabbos, Boro Park's 24-hour synagogue; and the Herzog family, well known for their Herzog wine cellars and Kayco, the leading Kosher distributor of Gefen, Glick’s and Hadar products.
The holiday of Sukkot starts this year on Wednesday, October 4th at sundown. It has been less than a calendar year since Masbia inaugurated its new site in Boro Park and has found itself with no space to build a Sukkah structure for the holiday of Sukkot. This meant that Masbia would have been closed for 7 days since observant Jews are only allowed to have a meal within the walls of a Sukkah structure. Being just a block away from Boro Park's most popular prayer destination, known as Congregation Shomrei Shabbos which has a Sukkah that is frequented by many who are in need of a Sukkah, Masbia Executive Director Alexander Rapaport approached the synagogue and they happily agreed, noting that is a public Sukkah for everyone in need. This partnership has made it possible for Masbia to operate during Sukkos.
Being there on Sukkos presented a new challenge since so many regular parishioners are used to using the free cafeteria and refreshments of Shomrei Shabbos. The volume of food needed would have been challenging for Masbia, as a soup kitchen who is always in an ongoing struggle to keep their shelves stocked with food. Thus, the Herzog family offered to step in and adopt this Sukkah as their own by supplying Masbia for Sukkos with a variety of Herzog Wines, a variety of Kedem grape juices, and huge amounts of high-end food products from their brands.
Masbia has put out a flyer schedule of when the hot meals will be served but this great donation of food from the Herzog family will allow the Sukkah to be stocked with food for literally 24/7, even when it is not meal-time at Masbia. Masbia will be staffing the Sukkah with security and waiters around the clock to keep it clean and orderly.
Masbia is still seeking sponsors for the hot dinners. For $50, you can sponsor one meal for one person on Yom Tov which is a full high-end Yom Tov meal with Mashgiach Temidi. To sponsor an entire Seudah/meal is $3,600. Masbia invites people who carry the same name as our forefathers to sponsor a Sukkot meal for a needy person on the day their name is celebrated, known as your Ushpizin.
The importance of sharing a meal with the needy during Sukkot is a great tradition and its origins are based on a chapter in Zohar that explains that we should open the doors of the Sukkah to the Ushpizin/guests. These guests, we are told, are the mystical presence of the Jewish forefathers who drop in on everyone's Sukkah. According to the Zohar, the food that you would have offered the Ushpizin should be given to the poor instead and that is the only way you earn their stay in your Sukkah.
Masbia Soup Kitchen Network opened in April of 2005, and now has locations in Boro Park, Flatbush, and Forest Hills. Masbia currently serves about 2 million Kosher meals a year to hungry New-Yorkers. Masbia of Boro Park is currently experimenting with being open for Shabbos and Yom-Tov/Jewish-Holidays. While it costs a lot more to be open on these days, both on the staffing side and the food side, it has proven itself to be a vital service to the community. For more information or to donate, visit: http://www.masbiaboropark.org/sukkos