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Jump in, Help out

Posted on 11/15/2013 @ 11:57 AM

There’s a Jewish text that teaches that we should not question those who present themselves as hungry, but to give everyone the benefit of the doubt: if they say they are hungry, then we should feed them (Midrash Vayikra Rabba 34:14). From this, we can understand that hunger is such an important issue – such a core need – that we have to go above and beyond to help those who are hungry.

As I followed the Hunger is Not a Game Summit blog I was inspired to reflect upon this difficult issue and consider the work our teens have taken on. I am so proud of the work our teens do but saddened and frustrated that we live in a world where hunger exists. My older daughter and I recently volunteered to serve food through a local Jewish community food pantry. It was extremely meaningful for both of us, but in different ways. For my daughter, she was proud to be involved, taking action as a young adult on an issue that she cares about. She was proud to be part of a solution to a problem.

For me, the thought of my daughter – and young people everywhere, especially our teens at BBYO – committing to responding to communal challenges by jumping in and helping out fills me with both pride and hope. Pride because it’s a demonstration of how I have tried to raise her – with a commitment to ‘Gimilut Hasadim’ – acts of loving-kindness toward others. And hope, well – I’m hopeful that, with my daughter and other young people’s help, we’ll start turning a corner where fewer and fewer people need to be served in a soup kitchen. I’m hopeful that someday everyone will be as blessed as I am to know where my next meal is coming from.

There’s another Jewish idea, that when a person eats and drinks [as part of celebrating a holiday], they are obligated to feed "the stranger, the orphan, and the widow" (Deuteronomy 16:11). As we grow closer to Thanksgiving and then Hannukah, I hope you will challenge your teens and yourself to commit to making even just one person less hungry. How will you jump in and help out this holiday season?

Committing to this Shabbat Message was Allan Bogan, Director of Field Operations for the Midwest Hub

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