Holidays can be a stressful time for many people, especially financially, but the Sid Jacobson JCC in partnership with the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty is alleviating the stress of putting food on the table for more than 70 families to observe Rosh Hashanah.
About a dozen volunteers, including area politicians, gathered Aug. 29 at the JCC’s Community Needs Bank to package more than 70 kosher food parcels to be delivered to families for Rosh Hashanah. Packages include both non-perishable and perishable foods, like whole chickens, eggs and a variety of produce.
“We have so many Jewish families that would not be able to have holiday meals, kosher foods for the holidays,” Susan Berman, vice president of community engagement at the Sid Jacobson JCC, said. “Our families are now going to be able to make holiday, which is really important.”
Rosh Hashanah, which begins on the evening of Sept. 15 and ends at sundown on Sept. 17, is the Jewish holiday celebrating the new year. Celebrations include enjoying a traditionally sweet treat of apples and honey to bring sweetness into the new year.
The holiday packages include both apples and honey, allowing families to carry on the tradition regardless of their financial abilities.
Packages are tailored to the family’s needs, providing the amount of food proportionate to the family.
Berman said the volunteers of the Community Needs Bank will then deliver the packages to families.
The distribution was made possible through a partnership with the Met Council, which donated the food included in the packages.
The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty is a New York City-based nonprofit that provides for the needs of impoverished individuals. Their services include affordable housing, a family violence program, Holocaust survivor assistance and crisis intervention.
One aspect of Met Council’s mission is providing kosher foods to those in need, the largest free kosher food distribution program in the world. It includes more than 101 food pantries.
This is the first time the JCC has partnered with Met Council to provide holiday food packages in what Berman called a “historic moment” for the center.
Ben Zaientz, agency relations senior manager for Met Council, said the nonprofit is looking to expand outside of New York City and serve the needs of the greater New York area.
“We’re excited to partner with folks like this at the Sid Jacobson JCC to help meet the needs of the rest of the community,” Zaientz said.
Zaientz said that so many individuals, including neighbors, experience food insecurity and the work the Met Council does is to “shine a light” on the people in need.
He said that holidays can pose additional stress on families financially, so their goal is to assist families in observing their holidays with dignity.
While holidays are the focus of this food packaging event, Zaientz said they hope to continue the initiatives beyond the holidays.
“Most of the visibility is around holidays, but people need to eat all year round,” Zaientz said.
Nassau Assemblymember Charles Lavine (D-North Shore) was present to help put together some of the kosher food packages. He said he joined in on the efforts as it is an action needed in the community.
“It is hard to believe there are a quarter of a million Long Islanders who don’t have sufficient food,” Lavine said.
He applauded the event for its actions in taking part to serve the community in need.
“These needs exist and part of being a member of a community means supporting the community,” Lavine said.