So many of the holidays we celebrate include special meals: Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving and, of course, Passover. During the Passover Seder, many of us will hold up a piece of matzah and say, “This is the bread of affliction, let all who are hungry come and eat.” We even place an extra cup of wine on the table for the prophet Elijah, just in case he happens to drop by.
When we say “let all who are hungry…,” it is a symbolic gesture. As a boy, I always thought of hungry people who lived in India, China or Africa. I learned the truth when I started volunteering at The INN soup kitchens 14 years ago.
Now I know that the “hungry” may be a family with children who live around the corner; a family with hard-working parents who have fallen on hard economic times and now face the impossible choice between buying food and paying rent.
Now I know the “hungry” might be a senior citizen who’s living on Social Security, only to find that inflation has made that impossible. Many of the seniors who come to The INN soup kitchens subsist on one meal a day.
Now I know the “hungry” is my neighbor who lost his job, can’t find another one and is confronting foreclosure, homelessness and hunger for the first time in his life. Sometimes the “hungry” is a veteran struggling with the scars that every veteran brings home from war.
As you sit around the seder table with family and friends, remember that our ancestors were hungry once. (More than once.) Remember that it is within our power to extend help and hope to all our hungry neighbors.
If you’ve had some blessings in your life, please consider making a donation to The INN (Interfaith Nutrition Network), which provides food, shelter and support services to thousands of Long Islanders each year.
Donations may be mailed to Dave Golbert, 7 Lee Court West, Great Neck, NY 11024. Please make your check payable to: The INN. If each of us gives what we can, “D’aynu.” It will be enough.
As the sages teach us, “Here on earth, God’s work must truly be our own.”