It was on the third challenge on why my friend never invites to any of the many Jewish festivities that he attends, my friend Yahav invited me to a Purim ceremony. Of course, I was told to wear a mask and come in a costume as somebody else.
Knowing my scriptures well – from many years as a bible Sunday school teacher, I aptly went as Esther.
I enjoyed myself so much, I similarly challenged another friend of the Jewish faith Iyzok. An occasion arose when his last-born son was having a Brit ceremony (circumcision).
Remembering Holocaust has taken me down the horrors of an epoch in our modern times that makes me pause and pray “Never again LORD, never again.”
Then there were several Chanukah events. There is much laughter, chatting and catching up with friends and I am always amazed at the seemingly community of friends and family and acquaintances. There is always plenty of food; the variety amazes and never disappoints any palate.
Then on Monday morning, my friend Gloria Starr Kins invites me to an award dinner event being organized by the Jewish community. I accepted; not for the food, but the opportunity to delve and get immersed in the fascinating history of the people of Israel. The center piece and root of the three major religions of the world: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The event, apart from honoring several contributors to the cause, was a fund raiser and highlighted the magnanimous work of the Colel Chabad. A food distribution program that was started in 1788 Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi and now in its 229th year, Colel Chabad is Israel’s national food security project for Israel’s needy people, with its aim of making Israel the world’s first hunger-free nation.
The organization is driven by statistics that impel it to carry on the work of the founding patriarchs of Colel Chabad. Among these are:
63% of heads of households helped were born in Israel;
59% of families that receive food packages are single parent households;
15% of families participate in the empowerment program (a route out of poverty);
11 % of households suffer from a handicap or mental illness;
9% of households have a special needs child;
10.5% of families are immigrants from former Soviet Union;
9% of families are from Ethiopia; and
10% are victims of domestic violence.
In 2016, Colel Chabad spent $20m on food programs which includes food card for purchasing food in local supermarkets, monthly delivery of fresh fruits and vegetables, monthly delivery of dry foods (rice, beans, lentils and peas), and education on home management and fiscal responsibility.
To guide the Colel Chabad carry out this revolutionary program in conjunction with the Israeli Government and NGOs, it is steers toward delivering on the mission set up by the founders mindful of four guiding principles that are:
- Remaining true to our founders (walking the road paved by the forbearers, benefitting from their blessings);
- Helping anyone and everyone (regardless of age, gender, background, or religious affiliation);
- Maximum leverage (constantly looking for ways to leverage each dollar through partnerships, matching grants and one-time capital investments that keep on giving); and
- Dignity and respect (respect the people that are served, as brothers and sisters.)
The Colel Chabad set to raise $100,000 and by the end of the function, pledges were rolling in and well over the half mark with over three quarter participation in the pledging event.
I pledge and was pleased to be part of this great tradition. Also, a delight this evening, was me, Janet Zeenat Karim, a Christian, who sat to sup at a table where to my right was a Muslim and to my left was a Jew: a larger than life and harmonious picture.
Thank you Colel Chabad for fighting hunger and more.