As Passover ends each year, people often talk about how many people were at their Seders, and recount good memories when families get together. They are tired from the preparations, but they look forward to be being able to do it again next year.
Unfortunately, some are not so lucky and are unable to afford food that is kosher for Passover.
The B’nai B’rith Project H.O.P.E. (Help Our People Everywhere) program helps make Passover happen for many families, by providing Passover staples to those unable to make these purchases for themselves. Through this community service project, B’nai B’rith volunteers and staff collect and distribute food packages to poor and elderly Jews during Passover. Created in the Northeast United States nearly 50 years ago, this project is an important part of the B’nai B’rith Center for Community Action’s community service program. Many people cannot afford Passover food—which becomes a luxury item when you are on a fixed income. This program exists to ensure anyone who wants to celebrate the holiday can do so.
Tens of thousands have celebrated Passover thanks to this program over the last half century. The Tikkun Olam impact on the volunteers who run the programs and those who pack and deliver the food is immeasurable. Many who volunteered as children have now brought on board their own children and grandchildren, marking this community service project as an annual family event.
B’nai B’rith thanks our countless volunteers who continue to participate in this national program.
This year, Project H.O.P.E. in B’nai B’rith’s MetroNorth Region of New York and Connecticut packed and distributed 724 bags of Passover food. On Long Island, N.Y., volunteers packed and delivered 312 bags to communities in Nassau and Suffolk counties. In Connecticut, Project H.O.P.E. packed and delivered another 312 packages. Volunteers came from BBYO, as well as community organizations such as the Jewish Federation and local synagogues. In New York City, young leaders from the New York/New Jersey B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network joined forces to pack 96 bags—including personal notes for the recipients—for seniors in the area.
In Maryland, volunteers for the Chesapeake Region worked to bring 500 bags of Passover food and wine to those in their community. They worked with the Jewish Social Service Agency (JSSA), Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, Giant Food, and several area synagogues that, along with JSSA, provided additional labor.
In Virginia, B’nai B’rith coordinated food packages and visits to 110 recipients. This program tailors the package to each family during the week of Passover. The recipients vary, from single mothers to Jewish seniors living alone. Volunteers came from the B’nai B’rith Levy Lodge and Cardozo Lodge, Bet Mishpachah and Olam Tikvah Congregation.
In Great Lakes Region in Michigan, B’nai B’rith members and supporters paid for and packed 50 boxes of Passover food at the Jewish Family Services office. Volunteers included young leaders from the new B’nai B’rith Young Leadership Network of Detroit.
Meeting the recipients each year helps reinforce the significance of the program. This year, a new recipient noted that she had no extra money to spend on Passover foods since her landlord had raised her rent $100 a month. The package from Project H.O.P.E. enabled her to observe Passover with her family—something she hadn’t thought was possible this year.
A couple in their 90s, who had been active community members in their younger days but now were more isolated, told the volunteers who delivered the packages this year that they were amazed by the bounty being delivered. The wife tearfully told the volunteer coordinator: “It’s so good to know that the mishpacha remembers us and cares about us.”
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