“And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; with bitter herbs they shall eat it.” Exodus 12:8 (The Israel Bible™)
With 1.7 million Israelis living under the poverty line, observing the week-long Passover holiday, starting on the evening of April 10, with all of its requirements to eat specially prepared and often costly kosher for Passover food, is a near impossibility. Therefore, Colel Chabad, Israel’s premier charity which has been providing assistance to the Holy Land’s poor since 1788, is working round-the-clock to ensure that holiday food and observances are available for those who need.
“It’s hard to comprehend the quantity of help that Colel Chabad provides every day, all year round for Israel’s neediest citizens,” said Rabbi Menachem Traxler, Director of Volunteering for Colel Chabad, to Breaking Israel News. “And, for Passover, our efforts expand exponentially.”
Colel Chabad is represented in nearly every city in Israel providing hot meals to the hungry, boxes of food and household products to families, prepaid shopping cards, companionship and Bible lessons. Last Passover, Colel Chabad helped 48,930 families have a festive holiday. Every recipient is referred to their local social workers to verify their needs. For Passover alone, this year the organization is sponsoring 22,000 Passover holiday seders, a Biblical requirement.
“Before Passover, 14,000 boxes filled with specialty Passover food will be distributed,” continued Rabbi Traxler. “This includes fruits, vegetables, matzah, canned goods, cleaning supplies, meat, chicken, wine and grape juice which is required for Passover.”
In addition, Colel Chabad is giving 2,200 families clothes shopping vouchers. “The Talmudic rabbis declared that people should have new clothing for the holiday,” explained Rabbi Traxler. “We want everyone to feel happy and dignified with fresh clothes and a plentitude of food.”
Colel Chabad maintains 23 soup kitchens throughout the Holy Land. Though the special requirements to prepare the kitchen properly for Passover are very stringent and time-consuming, the organization will not go a day without ensuring that hungry people have food to eat. Colel Chabad soup kitchens will be serving 2,500 meals a day throughout the holiday.
The organization manages an enormous budget which is funded through charitable donations. They pride themselves on the fact that an impressively large percent of every dollar actually goes directly to helping Israel’s poor and sick. “Colel Chabad strives to keep administrative costs to a minimum, avoids high rents, and utilizes an army of volunteers through a wide range of programs in order that we can help as many people as possible,” noted Rabbi Traxler.
“The Passover Haggadah (the book read at the festive seder meal), begins with, ‘All who are needy, come and eat.’ We, at Colel Chabad, take this very seriously and do all we can to ensure that everyone has a special Passover.”