Feeding hungry hearts — and bodies

Feeding hungry hearts — and bodies

High-schoolers raise funds for Israeli soup kitchen network

Figuring that food and Jews are a winning combination, a national group of high-school students decided three years ago to try a novel approach to fund-raising. Based on its success, the third annual America Eats for Israel campaign is set for March 11.

Meir Panim’s Jerusalem soup kitchen near the Central Bus Station. Photo by Abigail Klein Leichman

Nearly 100 kosher restaurants across the United States and Canada are registered on www.americaeatsforisrael.org, indicating their willingness to donate 10 percent of Tuesday’s gross revenue to an Israeli charity — which this year will be American Friends of Meir Panim.

It’s a fitting recipient for the funds, because Meir Panim’s main program is a network of 15 soup kitchens in major Israeli cities that feed some ‘40,000 needy children and seniors each month. Founded in ‘000, the non-profit organization also sponsors after-school centers and occupational training for adults.

Alex Porcelain, a senior at Yeshivat Rambam High School in Baltimore, is national co-director of America Eats for Israel, which had its genesis at his school in ‘004 as Baltimore Eats for Israel. Porcelain said in a phone interview that the project has cumulatively raised "well over $50,000" for Almagor, which aids Israeli victims of terror, and the Koby Mandell Foundation, which runs programs for bereaved Israeli children and mothers.

"Each year, the project is getting more popular," said Porcelain, who with two other seniors works with a network of regional coordinators at Jewish high schools around the country. "It’s a lot of effort, but it’s paying off."

In North Jersey, Porcelain has representatives at the Frisch School in Paramus, Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in Teaneck, and Bruriah High School for Girls in Elizabeth.

Ma’ayanot’s Shlomit Filhart, a senior from Monsey, has been busy soliciting restaurants and putting up posters and fliers to publicize the event. In addition to encouraging the wider community to patronize sponsors on March 11, she and her committee also plan to order in food to school from one of the participating restaurants that Tuesday.

Evan Schwartzbaum of West Orange, the representative at Frisch, also hopes to coordinate a school-wide take-out order to help the cause. "It’s going to help starving kids, and it’s not a very hard thing to go eat in a restaurant," he said.

Participating Teaneck establishments are Chickie’s French Fry and Chicken Bar, and Poppy’s Bagels — both on West Englewood Avenue — and EJ’s Pizza and Lazy Bean Caf?, both on Queen Anne Road.

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