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hungry?

04/14/2023 07:10:13 AM

Apr14

Rabbi Jeffrey Myers

I hope that your Sedarim were joyous, meaningful and tasty. I had the privilege of breaking matza with Muslims and Christians the first night, which also marked the confluence of our holidays at the same time, something that occurs once every 33 years. We had quite a number of deep discussions, which is what the Seder is supposed to encourage, with the Four Questions being the impetus. One of the discussions centered around the unending plague of hunger. Despite the advances in society, a greater percentage of the population in the United States is hungry now when compared to the 1960’s. According to the studies of that day, 97% of households reported food security, while 89.8% reported so in the 2021 USDA report. That is more than 35 million people. Clearly we are not only heading in the wrong direction, but failing miserably from achieving a standard that everyone in our country deserves: food security.

At Sedarim across the globe, this ancient Aramaic formula was recited: All who are hungry, come and eat. What does this really mean today? We invited congregants to our Seder who would have otherwise sat home alone, people of other faiths to learn and appreciate our customs, and family. Are they the ones that the invitation is addressed to? Probably not. It most likely refers to the hungry in our communities who hunger for a meal. We may not know whom they are, making us unable to extend the proper invitation. Might there be alternative ways to fulfill this mandate? I believe that there is.

There is the mitzvah of Maot Chittin, literally “wheat money”. It is incumbent upon all of us to donate to help those in need during Passover. All those who authorized me to be their agent to sell their hametz were asked to make a donation to The Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund. Those sums, plus additional monies in the fund, will be donated to the Squirrel Hill Found Pantry. If you wish to participate in this mitzvah, you are most welcome to do so online at www.treeoflifepgh.org/donate and select Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund from the “type” line. Or, you can send in a check with the appropriate wording in the “menu” line. If you prefer, you can donate to a worthy cause of your choice, such as www.MAZON.org or the East End Cooperative Ministries at www.EECM.org.

Food insecurity denies those who suffer from it true freedom, as those who are hungry are not truly free from worrying where their next meal might come from. If you were able to enjoy a Seder meal,the best way to answer “All who are hungry, come and eat” is through action.  Judaism is a religion of action through mitzvot, and this action ennobles the soul and moves fellow humans towards freedom from food insecurity. Is this not what Passover is all about: the Festival of Freedom?

Thu, May 30 2024 22 Iyyar 5784