By Deb Silverthorn
Dallas Area Torah Association (DATA) is coordinating food provision and seder meals this week, making sure no Jew goes hungry this holiday.
“Second-best to having our community seders, and being with family, is making the provisions so anyone can still have a seder meal,” said DATA’s Rabbi Bentzi Epstein. “This last year has been particularly hard emotionally, financially, in so many ways. We want to alleviate the struggle to enjoy a kosher Passover and bring joy to anyone we can.”
Partnering for the last four years, Epstein and DATA’s Rabbi Yehuda Abrams have helped coordinate food to be transported to Dallas and provided at a fraction of its cost. The program is possible through a partnership with Moadim L’Simcha in Lakewood, New Jersey, which brokers foods at a much-discounted price, then passes that savings on in more than a dozen cities around the country.
Requests for help can be made to DATA by any Jew in need, affiliated or not. The order form includes meat and poultry, fish, vegetables and dairy items, canned goods and beverages as well as snacks and sweets, baking ingredients and kitchen items. Participants pay only what they are able to and it’s not unusual for an order of $1,000 to net at $50 and, in more than a few cases, the orders have been completely underwritten.
DATA’s Passover effort supports 125 local families, approximately 500 people. Cost benefits were also passed on to Jewish Family Service to enhance its offerings through the Food Pantry’s Kosher Corner. Various forms of support from The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Kosher Palate and Stevens Transport have made the endeavor possible.
“My wife Suellen and I were moved by the sight of the seemingly endless number of boxes of food coming off the tractor-trailer, so much to be provided to 125 local families in need,” said Federation Board Chair A.J. Rosmarin. “The Federation is proud to have stepped up in these difficult times, when so many are recovering from — or in the throes of — issues related to the pandemic and the winter storm. Supporting this cause absolutely aligns with our mission to care for Jews in need and we’re honored to be here to do just that.”
It took just one email from Epstein to Carol and Steve Aaron, who own Stevens Transport, a Dallas-based national truckload carrier, to connect an 18-wheeler tractor-trailer in the area to bring the nearly 2,100 boxes of food, drink, disposables and other items.
“We were on the ground and able to turn it around in a short time. We had a truck and driver in that area and were able to pull it in to help out,” said Carol Aaron. “We’re thrilled we could help, something we’re always happy to do, and we are so proud of being a part of our community which comes together to help one another.”
The food was delivered to Kosher Palate, where it is being unloaded and prepared for pickup or delivery by employees, volunteers from Mesorah High School for Girls and community members. “This is another way to help our community and no one should go without,” said Chaim Goldfeder. He and his wife Miriam, owners of Kosher Palate, are offering matzo and an in-store discounts to recipients of the community Passover order. “Everyone should have the opportunity to sit at a holiday meal and feel the specialness of this season,” Miriam Goldfeder added.
Another resouce: Seder in a Box
Lowell Michelson’s team originated Kosher Simcha’s “Seder in a Box” last year when the pandemic found many in the community who were used to traveling solo for the first time. This year, realizing some small family groups may be able to come together, Michelson created boxes with supplies and food for one, two, four or six.
“It’s emotional and overwhelming to know how many will again be without their families at the seder table and to know that the expense of the holiday makes it tougher for many. It’s an honor to be a part of the mitzvah of feeding others and at holiday time that is doubled and tripled and more,” said Michelson. “We have heard from people who are in the hospital, who are alone, for whom food insecurity has hit home for the first time. For whatever reason people are finding themselves without and we have the ability to make it easier.”
With DATA and other sponsors, Simcha Kosher is making at least 100 of those meals at no cost to anyone in need. The boxes contain a seder plate and items for it, a how-to guide, Haggadah, Kiddush cup, kosher wine or grape juice, soup, gefilte fish, chicken, potatoes and grilled vegetables and a slice of cake.
“It makes the complete difference to people who really are eternally grateful,” said Epstein. “Many have expressed how this season is about relationships with people and understandings of why Hashem put us in their lives.”