From the desk of CEO Judy Halper: March 2024

Judy Desk blog - laptop with plant and coffee cup

Passover comes late this year. It begins at sunset on April 22, which does seem really, really late! Of course, those of us who celebrate Jewish holidays know the inside joke that our holidays never arrive on time – they are always early or late!

When I was a young child, my entire extended family would gather for the holiday at my aunt and uncle’s home, which was big enough for maybe a family of four. Somehow we managed to all cram in there. While I don’t recall who led the seder, I do remember my uncle carrying a tray of gefilte fish out the backdoor of the house and around through the front door in order to provide food to all those gathered. There was no other way to efficiently make sure everyone got fed!

It’s memories like these that endear the holidays and family gatherings that make each year’s festivities special. Recognizing that many individuals and families may not have the resources to assemble a crowd, or provide the special ingredients and foods associated with Passover, the JFCS Hag Sameach Program steps in each year providing ritual items and traditional Passover food items so that all who wish to participate in the holiday can have some of the requisite items. Hundreds of these bags will be assembled and distributed thanks to our outstanding program staff, donors and kindhearted volunteers.

Food security takes many shapes and forms at JFCS. In addition to the Hag Sameach bags, we provide shelf-stable food boxes designed for families who need a few additional items to get them through the weekend or to their next paycheck. We support the work of our neighbor and tenant, PRISM, by advocating at the Legislature to address food security and help reduce and eliminate hunger. We provide volunteers to assist with PRISM’s fresh food giveaways and help many of its visitors enroll in benefits such as SNAP. In addition, our Kosher Meals on Wheels program provides nutritious meals to seniors who are in need of healthy, ready-to-eat meals.

As we gather for the Passover holiday and recall the story of slavery and our freedom, and as we enjoy the company of friends and family, take a moment to appreciate all that is set before you – even the horseradish! Thank you for all you do to support our programs that bring food and joy to so many.