It’s hard to imagine Rosh Hashanah without sweet apples and honey, or a Yom Kippur break fast without savory bagels and lox. But for too many families, these foods won’t make it to the table.
Today, more than 50 million Americans and almost 25% of all Israelis experience hunger, or live right on the edge of being unable to feed themselves or their families. Dealing with hunger is a year-round struggle, but can feel especially painful on holidays like Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, which highlight what can feel like a luxurious time for reflection and bringing people together around a festive meal or a break fast. We sometimes take for granted the ability to fast on Yom Kippur.
The high holidays give us time for introspection and tshuvah (repentance) as we aim to enter the new year with open hearts and strong relationships. They also offer the opportunity for us to think about ways we could be doing more to help our communities grow stronger and healthier.
In the spirit of tikkun olam and of new starts, here are some ways to help stamp out hunger this high holiday season, and to bring some sweetness to others’ new year’s celebrations:
- Masbia: This New York-based kosher soup kitchen network helps to feed hungry people and families all year round, including on the high holidays. Find out how you can volunteer here, or donate money, food or equipment here. Masbia is also selling Rosh Hashanah cards, the proceeds of which will go to support their work.
- Mazon: This Jewish hunger organization created a bunch of resources to incorporate the notions of hunger and food security into your high holiday celebrations. Make a donation to support their ongoing work to combat hunger here.
- Jewish Family & Children Services: Lots of JFCS chapters around the country have high holiday-related programming and year-round food banks you can volunteer with.
- No Kid Hungry: This national organization fights childhood hunger through advocacy and education. Take their No Kid Hungry Pledge, and get involved here.
- Feeding America: This national network of food banks helps distribute over 3 billion pounds of food to hungry individuals and families each year. Find out how you can volunteer (sorting, boxing and repackaging donated food) here.
- Revolution Hunger: Help this national campaign harness teen power to fight hunger and malnutrition around the world. Get involved with the Revolution Hunger Youth Team here.
Find out more about Masbia’s work during last year’s Rosh Hashanah in the video below:
Do you know of other organizations that are standing up to hunger this high holiday season? Let us know in the comments below or by tweeting @repairtheworld.