Coming together to support Israelis in need on Rosh Hashanah

Leket’s team of 52,000 volunteers rescues and delivers annually more than 2.3 million meals and 14.4 million kg. of produce and perishable food items.

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September 8, 2018 18:07
2 minute read.
Elderly Israelis receiving aid at a Pitchon Lev assistance center

Elderly Israelis receiving aid at a Pitchon Lev assistance center. (photo credit: YAKI ZIMERMAN)

 
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On Sunday evening, families across Israel are sitting down with loved ones and friends for a festive Rosh Hashanah meal.

For most families, the new year festivities are an opportunity for celebration. For others, however, they are a stark reminder of their struggle to provide food for themselves and their households.

Research by Israeli accounting firm BDO Ziv Haft has revealed that 50,000 tons of fruit and vegetables purchased for festive meals during the coming month, worth approximately NIS 370 million, will be thrown away.

The average Israeli family will see food worth approximately NIS 420 go to waste, including NIS 85 of fruit and vegetables.

One group seeking to rescue surplus food for low-income families is Leket, an Israeli food rescue and distribution organization.

Leket’s team of 52,000 volunteers rescues and delivers annually more than 2.3 million meals and 14.4 million kg. of produce and perishable food items to the underprivileged, including disadvantaged children, families and the elderly.

“At a time when we’re starting the new year, it’s incredibly disheartening to see the amount of food being wasted in preparation of the holiday meals,” said Joseph Gitler, founder and chairman of Leket Israel.

“Leket Israel works tirelessly to rescue as much surplus produce and fresh food as possible so that Israelis in need can celebrate Rosh Hashanah with a joyous holiday meal. However, there are still many tons of rescuable food that Leket is striving to collect and deliver to the people who need it most before it goes to waste.”

Pitchon Lev, an Israeli humanitarian organization, distributed food packages to 9,000 families, worth NIS 4 million, at its assistance centers across the country ahead of Rosh Hashanah.


“Programs launched by the government in recent years – mortgage programs, open skies agreements, reduced electricity costs – barely have an impact on the poor in the country,” said Eli Cohen, CEO of Pitchon Lev.

“We need a ‘purely for the poor’ program, which will deal with the issue of poverty in an effective, practicable and immediate manner,” he added.

Among the 1,000 volunteers who participated in the distribution effort were MKs Yoav Kisch (Likud) and Aliza Lavie (Yesh Atid).

“Unfortunately these organizations are a necessity due to today’s reality but also proof of the concern and solidarity shown by the Jewish people,” said Kisch.

“It is especially moving to work together with the dedicated team of volunteers and activists, citizens and soldiers, that are opening their hearts and warming the hearts of thousands of families in need throughout the year,” said Lavie. “For many, this is no less than a rescue program.”

The Jerusalem-based International Fellowship of Christians and Jews distributed NIS 5.6 million ($1.55m) worth of clothing and food vouchers to low-income and vulnerable Israeli families and individuals ahead of the festival.

Among those benefiting from the fellowship’s aid are disadvantaged and single-parent families, senior citizens, children living in welfare institutions, shelters for abused women, and lone soldiers serving in the IDF.

The fellowship, funded by Christian donors, has also donated $1.25 million in aid to 115,000 disadvantaged Jews living throughout the former Soviet Union and in Morocco.

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