Bread for All

Image by Rebecca Matthews

The traditional blessing that Jews have repeated for many generations before eating their bread, is Hamotzi Lechem, which praises the Lord for bringing forth bread from the earth. Bread is considered the most basic food by many cultures. In the biblical story, when Adam was expelled from the Garden of Eden, the Lord told him: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread”. Common expressions like “earning his bread” or “living on bread and butter” demonstrate how basic it is for our existence. One of the few things that I heard from my father about the Holocaust years was the sentence: “I was hungry for bread”. For all these reasons, we chose to call our food distribution activity Hamotzi Lechem. 

Indeed, bread is one of the basic necessities of mankind. Nevertheless, it is not available for millions of people around the world. Even here in Israel, our modern and developed country, many people of various population groups struggle daily for food. These include elderly people living on modest pensions, newcomers from certain countries, the unemployed, the disabled and asylum seekers from Africa.  

An initiative to provide food to some of these people living in our neighborhood, was started by Sharon, a member of our congregation, more than a year ago. Already active in an association for helping refugees and asylum seekers in the Negev, she began collecting surplus freshly-baked products from the local supermarket every Friday at closing time and delivering it to them. This initiative started to grow when more people from our congregation, as well as other good people from Omer, joined this project. As the number of volunteers grew, the number of recipients grew too: more names were added to the list. Some of them were obtained from the welfare department of the Be’er-Sheva municipality.

An expanded activity of this group is a close cooperation with Be’er Sova, a volunteer organization in Be’er Sheva that operates a soup kitchen and delivers hot meals to homes of the needy. Now, collecting surplus baked products every day, we can provide Be’er Sova with larger amounts of food several times a week.

An important boost to this project was the sponsorship given by Congregation Magen Avraham. They give us publicity, financial and administrative help. The Lora Tzedaka Fund helped us buy a refrigerator to store the food. This support was especially important during the winter when Be’er Sova could not operate its dining room because of Covid19 restrictions. Instead, it provided people with take-away meals, and our financial contribution enabled the purchase of proper cups for soup, which was essential for elderly people with dental problems. Before Passover, donations from congregation members and the Lora Tzedaka Fund enabled us to purchase supermarket coupons for the people on our list.

An acknowledgement is due to all our volunteers who are so devoted to this mission and always willing to help. We are also grateful to the management of the Shufersal supermarkets and its workers in the local branch of Omer for their generosity and daily help. Many thanks to Meidan Clop, who runs the farmers market in this area and willingly contributes fruits and vegetables every week. And last, but not least, many thanks to the administrative staff of Congregation Magen Avraham and Rabbi Joseph for their help. Together we can somewhat improve the lives of people in our neighborhood.

Ze'ev Porat