For many preparing to celebrate Passover, the pre-holiday routine consists of sorting out the Seder guest list, divvying up preparation responsibilities and visiting the grocery store to acquire ingredients for the feast.
While this is the norm for many, there are those who are unable to obtain and prepare the necessary holiday fare—that’s where B’nai B’rith comes in with Project H.O.P.E.
Project H.O.P.E. (Help Our People Everywhere) is an annual program carried out by B’nai B’rith volunteers who purchase and distribute food packages to low-income and elderly Jews during Passover. Many who receive B’nai B’rith’s assistance cannot afford the Passover staples and do not have family nearby to help them. This year B’nai B’rith will distribute more than 2,000 kosher-for-Passover packages.
“Project H.O.P.E. is a program that really gets B’nai B’rith back to its roots,” B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said. “It’s this kind of hyper-local community service that our organization was founded upon. It’s truly outstanding to see hundreds of people dedicating their time to ensure those in need have a proper Passover celebration.”
The program is currently underway with hundreds of volunteers already having turned out to collect, store, pack and deliver the food to those in need up and down the east coast. And these volunteers are not only B’nai B’rith members, Project H.O.P.E. works with community family service agencies, local Jewish social services and local synagogues to organize the people power it takes to perform a project of this scope.
Project H.O.P.E. coordinator for the Philadelphia region Samuel Domsky declared his region’s program a success, with 300 volunteers ensuring those in need had the essentials to celebrate.
“We delivered to 600 recipients all over the Philadelphia region—two grocery bags [each] so all could enjoy the holiday of Passover,” Domsky said. “It was, as it has been for the last 17 years, extremely rewarding, not only for those that have received, but actually for those that have given.”
The community action project, created by B’nai B’rith Brooklyn leaders in the late 1960s, has expanded to communities throughout the Northeast and across the United States. The recipients include singles, couples, families, assisted living residents and group homes for the disabled. This year, in addition to distribution throughout New York City, the program is being held in Philadelphia, Connecticut, Maryland, Virginia, Michigan and Washington, D.C.
“Year after year, Project H.O.P.E. fulfills the B’nai B’rith tenets of helping those in need, and connecting them with the Jewish people,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “It’s extremely gratifying that B’nai B’rith was able to give these people some respite to enjoy Passover.”