More than 1 in 8 Americans struggles with hunger; and many in our own neighborhood. I recently heard a story from Principal Laureal Robinson at Spring Garden Elementary about a student who was putting some of her free school breakfasts and lunches in her backpack to take home because her family did not have enough money to buy groceries last month. The faces of hunger in America are both familiar and hidden from view, yet they are all too real and far too many.
Our tradition teaches that:
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not pick your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen fruit of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the strangers. (Leviticus 19:9-10)
Although most of us no longer have fields and vineyards, the message is clear. We must share our resources with the most vulnerable in our society. And one of the strongest Jewish advocates for promoting this message is MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger. Many of you may be familiar with MAZON; maybe like me, you gave some of your bar or bat mitzvah money to help support their important work.
MAZON has a long tradition of engaging the American Jewish community as well as anti-hunger organizations to become catalysts for the change we need to end hunger in America. We know all too well that there are persistent myths about hunger in America, about who is hungry and why. Until our nation recognizes the profound prevalence of hunger here at home, we will never be able to rally the political will required to end it.
That’s why we are partnering with MAZON to bring a powerful community engagement program that will encourage individuals to embark on a journey—one that that will challenge their beliefs about who in America struggles with hunger and why, and empower them to take action.
The exhibit, called “This Is Hunger,” is a high-impact, experiential installation on wheels—literally, it’s a big rig. When the 53-foot-long double expandable trailer is parked and open on both sides, it provides nearly 1,000 square feet of interior space to take participants on a two-part journey: to understand the stark reality of hunger in America and to take action to end hunger once and for all. It consists of two main parts:
Part One: Illuminate—Participants enter the truck and are invited to sit at a communal table to meet, virtually, real people struggling with hunger. Portraits are projected at each end of the table, one by one, as they share their stories in their own words and in their own voices.
Part Two: Advocate—At the conclusion of Part One: Illuminate, participants will be invited to engage in activities and experiences that will deepen their awareness about the complexities of being hungry and invite them to join MAZON in educating the rest of our nation and advocating for change.
Rodeph Shalom is proud to host “This Is Hunger,” on March 17th-19th. The installation will be open the whole weekend for the entire community and we have blocked off special times for our congregation: right after services on Friday night, during a special Torah study on Saturday morning, and all morning Sunday for our religious students and parents.
To sign up for the exhibit: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/this-is-hunger-pa-congregation-rodeph-shalom-tickets-32277891041
To get involved in some of our congregational hunger relief efforts or to find out more information about “This Is Hunger,” please contact Benay Stein – firstname.lastname@example.org