Tonight, erev Yom Kippur, we will begin the prescribed 25-hour ritual fast, providing us with a valuable opportunity to reflect on more than just our own hunger.
The American Jewish World Service is urging that we spend some of those hours thinking about those “for whom fasting is not a ritual, but a chronic reality.”
According to AJWS president Ruth Messinger, more than one billion people worldwide go hungry every day, and one child dies every six seconds from hunger-related causes.
Citing Isaiah’s injunction in the Yom Kippur haftarah, “‘This is the fast I desire . . . to let the oppressed go free; to share your bread with the hungry,”‘ Messinger is urging Jews to donate the money they would otherwise have spent on food to the organization’s campaign against global hunger.
The local community is suffering as well.
According to Jennifer Rothman at the Center for Food Action in Englewood, CFA is experiencing a food shortage emergency. Said Rothman, “Because of the weak economic conditions, many new clients are left with no choice other than to come to CFA for food to feed their families.”
She noted that at CFA’s Englewood site and at each of its other seven local sites, the number of food clients has nearly doubled since the recession began. In addition, because of the length of time it is taking for clients to find work, CFA is now providing seven-day food packages up to 12 times a year “for those who are struggling to put food on their tables.”
The economy has also affected the level of donations, causing what the CFA calls “a perfect storm â€¦ and there is no end in sight.”
This holiday season – whether we choose to send a donation to AJWS, CFA, or another organization of choice, or whether we decide instead to bring food to a local shelter or food pantry – let us not commit another sin, turning a blind eye to the needs of others.
As our own stomachs grumble on Yom Kippur, let us also remember those who will not be able to break the fast.
For further information about these two programs, visit www.cfanj.org or ajws.org/hunger.