Some 22,000 people will receive a free Passover seder meal through Colel Chabad.
The organization said this will be its largest distribution in recent memory. Colel Chabad began operating in 1788.
The meals are being prepared in the Mishor Adumim facility, with distribution points in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and the Leket facility in Ra’anana.
What is on the menu? No fewer than 11,000 salmon fillets, 7,000 chicken thighs and 9,800 almond cakes. The food preparation entails an order of some 30,000 eggs and 10 tons worth of potatoes.
In addition to the prepared meals, Colel Chabad will distribute 10,800 boxes of holiday food staples as well as fresh fruits and vegetables to the doors of families in the National Food Security initiative, a program of the Welfare Ministry implemented by the charity’s network.
“Every effort is made to giving [these families] a sense of enjoyment for the holiday, so… they can achieve a feeling of personal respect, joy and freedom and leave the challenges of their daily lives behind while celebrating the chag,” said Rabbi Shalom Duchman, director of Colel Chabad.
Colel Chabad is the founder of Pantry Packers, one of the country’s largest food distribution facilities, founded in 2013. It operates like a manufacturing plant, with workers standing in assembly line fashion, processing, bagging, sealing and labeling products and then boxing them for shipping.
Pantry Packers alone has more than 18,000 annual volunteers who package upwards of half a million bags of food each year.
A December report by the National Insurance Institute found that 1,780,500 Israelis – including 466,400 families and 814,800 children, some 21.2% of the population – are living below the poverty line.
In addition to Colel Chabad, the Keren Meirim organization, which also works to fight the cycle of poverty and suffering that has been sweeping over Israel in recent years, will host a series of free Passover Seders for those who are in financial or social need.
Rabbi David Levy will host the Jerusalem Seder at his home in Kiryat Menachem. He said he expects around 80 people of all ages, ethnicity and levels of religious observance.
“Passover is a time when people prefer to be with their families,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “But these are people who don’t have families.”
He believes that in the time of the Temple, all the Jews will eat together and bring their own unique tribal customs to the Passover Seder. Until then, he said, he enjoys having a variety of people around his own table.
When asked why he wants to open his home in such a way, he told the Post, “Unity and freedom should be for all the Jewish people.”