From Queensland to Texas, from Baltimore to London, the name of Meir Panim evokes respect from supporters of all stripes, who believe in helping and providing for those in need. Katie and Greg Holloway live in the central Texas city of Temple (population 78,000) and have visited Israel and Meir Panim numerous times. The Holloways first visited the Jerusalem Restaurant-Style Soup kitchen in 2011, and inspired by the organization’s activities, became loyal supporters. With the exception of this year, they have visited Israel annually since 2011, and on each of their visits, they have spent time at Meir Panim Branches. In 2019, during their visit to the Or Akiva Branch, they noticed that the distribution center was covered with a tarp that had become worn. The Holloways, together with their church, started a fundraising drive to replace the tarp with a metal pergola, which graces the Or Akiva center.
“Meir Panim is a strong building block in building relationships between Christians and Jews,” says Katie. “It’s important to bond with the Jewish people, and Meir Panim allows us that opportunity.” Greg Holloway views the responsibility to care for the poor as a religious obligation, citing the verse from Proverbs (17:5) ‘Whoever mocks the poor insults his Maker.’ “That says it all for me,” he adds.
Cantor Avraham Albrecht of Congregation Beth Tefiloh in Baltimore, Maryland, a member of the Board of Directors of American Friends of Meir Panim, was introduced to the organization by a friend some fifteen years ago on a visit to Israel. “I saw families that they support in Kiryat Malachi, and when I saw the way that they lived, I was shocked. I had not been exposed to the idea that hunger exists, and people are living in poverty.” Upon returning to the United States, Cantor Albrecht was determined to help the organization, and over the years has given many concerts to benefit Meir Panim. Three years ago, he visited Meir Panim in Or Akiva, and he enthuses, “I had an amazing meeting there, and they are doing tremendous work.” Cantor Albrecht speaks highly of the way Meir Panim treats its clients. “They always have a lot of dignity. The person could be very poor, but they relate to the person as if he were the wealthiest person in the world.”
Sarina Dwek of London, Chairperson of Meir Panim’s UK Board of Directors, like Cantor Albrecht, did not believe that hunger and poverty existed in Israel until she saw it with her own eyes. “Normally, she says, “People like to support fancy projects. It is easier to support hospitals, science, and the arts than help an organization that fights poverty. One needs to have a special character.” Sarina is fully involved in Meir Panim’s activities in England and helps to raise money for their annual dinner. “I like the ‘multiply effect’ of Meir Panim,” she says, referring to the fact that funds that Meir Panim receives are used to help their charity infrastructure, which they then use to raise additional funds from other groups. “The money that we give them enables them to get local people to approach others to get more donations.”
Howard and Glynnis Heath, of Hope Island, located on Australia’s Gold Coast, are Christian pastors. “The Bible is quite clear on our responsibility for helping the people of Israel and, in particular, the poor people of Israel,” says Howard. “Many years ago, we went looking for a suitable organization to support, and we found Meir Panim, and we have been supporting them ever since. We just love the work that Meir Panim is doing, looking after Holocaust Survivors, and the poor and needy, and feeding them.”
Though Howard and Glynnis have never been to Israel, they follow current events closely and receive regular updates from Meir Panim about the organization’s activities. “Meir Panim does its work extremely well, to the best of their ability. They have many wonderful supporters and volunteers, working with dignity and respect.”
Four families located in four different points around the globe – all are supporting the work of Meir Panim, with enthusiasm and appreciation. As Katie Holloway says, “If we would all treat each other with the dignity and respect that Meir Panim treats its clients, the world would be a better place.”