Why we all need a little Passover Hag Sameach

By Deb Savitt • Community Involvement Manager


Hag Sameach means happy holidays, and the JFCS Hag Sameach program has been synonymous with providing overflowing bags of Chanukah or holiday gifts for the past 24 years. This is an incredible operation—really a community event—and we could not be more proud of the way our community steps up to support it. By providing a range of donations including cash, gift items, supplies and volunteer time for this amazing enterprise, JFCS utilizes 200 volunteers to serve roughly 700 individuals in our community each holiday season.


Passover Hag Sameach, the program’s younger sister, was born many years after the launch of our winter program, and built upon the same successful model. As an easy, manageable way to engage with JFCS and our larger community, nearly anyone can participate by decorating, assembling and delivering the Passover bags filled with ritual items and food created for Jewish individuals and families in our community. In addition, the Adopt A Family component offers a reasonable donation opportunity to cover the cost of each Passover bag created. For just “double chai” – $36 – (though of course a donation of any size is gratefully accepted and appreciated to help offset the cost of the bags), JFCS creates a virtual Seder-in-a-bag for each recipient. Last year JFCS provided nearly 200 food bags for referred families and individuals.


The Passover Seder offers us a framework to reflect on our values and ask difficult questions, so here is one more:  Why is Passover Hag Sameach important? Our Passover Seder might be one of the most significant and widely-observed rituals in Jewish practice. It teaches us, as we walk through the retelling of the Exodus, about a journey from slavery to freedom and to a new destination; and about triumph over challenge; inclusion over exclusion; and welcoming the stranger. That makes the Passover story malleable, personal and relevant to any community at any time in history.


Often, the families or individuals referred to us as gift recipients are facing challenges in their lives that might otherwise preclude them from participation in the holiday. Receiving a gift of ritual foods for Passover at a time when they might otherwise feel isolated, disconnected or disengaged is reflective of all the holiday stands for, and is a simple yet meaningful gesture for those who just might need it the most. At the same time, this program offers our community a chance to come together and walk the talk of what Passover is all about by extending a hand and a bag of hope to those who need it.


To help with Hag Sameach bag assembly on March 30 or delivery on April 2, please click here; to make an Adopt A Family donation, please click here


For more information about our Hag Sameach program contact Mindy Teele, Hag Sameach Coordinator, at mteele@jfcsmpls.org or 952-542-4870.