WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 15, 2009 — More than 700 Reform Jewish high school students from across the United States and Canada spent Sunday afternoon donning hairnets and plastic gloves as they assembled more than 40,000 kosher meals to be served to needy Jewish families in New York City. The project was a joint effort of the Union for Reform Judaism, the Project Elijah Foundation and MAZON – A Jewish Response to Hunger.
The teens were gathered in Washington, D.C. this weekend for the biennial convention of the North American Federation of Temple Youth (NFTY), the youth branch of the Reform Jewish Movement. On Sunday, convention delegates gathered at Washington Hebrew Congregation, where they assembled packages of Elijah’s Kosher Manna, a nutritious vegetable meal made from soy protein, rice, dehydrated vegetables and a vitamin/mineral flavoring mix. The packages will be shipped to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty’s food bank in Brooklyn, New York, where they will be distributed to more than 13,000 families a month.
Rabbi Michael Mellen, Director of Youth Programs for the Union for Reform Judaism, said he hopes the students’ experience packaging kosher meals will further inspire them to work toward tikkun olam, the repair of our world.
“These teens are all about making a difference in the world, so this is partly about making a difference in the moment, but its also about carrying this experience and this idea and what it teaches into other places in their lives,” Rabbi Mellen said. “For them to witness the sheer amount of meals they helped to assemble sends a very powerful messages about what each individual is about to do by playing his or her own part. And ultimately, this project falls within the context of Jewish values. It’s not just about feeding somebody; it’s literally about repairing our universe.”
Rabbi Elliott Kleinman, Chief Program Officer of the Union for Reform Judaism, emphasized MAZON’s role in Sunday’s project. “This project wouldn’t have come together without the help and sponsorship of MAZON, which has dedicated itself to fighting hunger across the country,” Rabbi Kleinman said. “MAZON’s participation in today’s project stems not just from a desire feed the hungry but from the important recognition that we must educate people about the root of hunger issues in America.”
Photos are available upon request. For more information about the organizations involved in this effort, please visit the following sites: