Mar 27, 2020

Amazing CommUNITY Food Project Eases Passover for Neighbors in Need

What an incredible Jewish community we have here in South Palm Beach County!  When a sudden opportunity to donate many truckloads of Kosher for Passover food to our neighbors in need arose, there was no doubt we would make it happen. Our Jewish Federation, its Deborah and Larry D. Silver Center for Jewish Engagement and Jacobson Jewish Community Foundation, Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, Hands On Tzedakah (HOT), and all of our incredible rabbis and synagogues stepped right up with their support.
 
It all started when Jerry & Shelly Abramson had to cancel their annual MatzaFun Passover Program on short notice, and were left with food for 800 hotel guests. Part-time Boca Raton residents, Jerry and Shelly knew from their previous experience aiding in our massive community Hurricane Irma response, that our community's amazing partnerships could come together quickly and get the food to the people who need it. 
 
Within a couple of hours of Jerry’s call, our partnership had raised the funds to purchase about $125,000 of nonperishables, frozen meats and prepared dishes, and more, at Jerry & Shelly Abramson’s cost, and were already planning to distribute it for up to 10,000 Passover meals
 
The first wave of trucks delivered their goods early this week for unloading and sorting on the Federation campus, where a line of cars picked them up the following day. Another wave of trucks is coming in time for the seders.  

Reflections from some of the project’s participants bring home the power and meaning of this project:
 
Summer Faerman, the Tzedakah Learning & Chesed (TLC) Programming Director at B’nai Torah Congregation says, “As we prepare to celebrate Passover, a holiday about freedom from slavery, we must recognize that a hungry person is not a free person. This Passover food distribution literally will free people from hunger.” Summer’s experience with mass food distribution and her expertise in disaster recovery and response has been invaluable, as has HOT, under the direction of its President, Ron Gallatin.
 
“This is a prime example of how strong our community is because we work so well together,” said Matthew C. Levin, President & CEO of the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County. “Built on deep respect, friendship and critical shared values, our Federation’s partnership with all of our rabbis and agencies has a phenomenal impact on our entire Jewish community.”  
 
“Kosher for Passover food items are very expensive, and many families are already struggling with food insecurity,” said Danielle Hartman, Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services President & CEO. “This Passover distribution is another example of what makes our Jewish community so special.”  
 
“This incredible effort by our Jewish community has literally brought tears to the eyes of people we were able to help,” said Rabbi Dan Levin at Temple Beth El of Boca Raton. “I feel so proud that the community fabric we have so carefully woven together will hold us through this difficult time.”
 
“My grandparents survived the Holocaust scavenging the forest for food,” said Abramson. “It feels great to know I am helping people in need to keep Pesach.” 
 
And among the grateful messages we have received from our recipients, one wrote to Rebbetzin Rivka Liberow of our Chabad Student Center: “I have about $40 a week for groceries and non-food items. I’ve been VERY sad and stressed.  You can’t possible know what it feels like to not have to search for help. Just that you love me enough to think of me.  I love you and I thank Hashem for you!”
 
If you or a neighbor are in need of help, please contact Ruth & Norman Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS) at 561-852-3333 – for those with food insecurity, JFS delivers through its Jacobson Family Food Pantry, and provides a kosher Meals on Wheels program for seniors.  In addition, our main Federation telephone number, 561-852-3100, is being monitored regularly for voicemail messages.