Cooking for Yom Tov? Don’t forget the people who are coping with a crisis situation!
Thus read the opening sentence to a pre-Yom Tov post.
Those days before Yom Tov, the Ezer Mizion’s kitchens were humming with activity as they engaged in large-scale preparations to send Yom Tov meals to families of the ill and disabled and bring the joy of the upcoming chagim into their homes.
Leah Kupferstein’s* kitchen normally would boast a counter full of culinary delights prepared for Yom Tov. But while the calendar had told Leah that Yom Tov will be arriving in a matter of days, her mixer remained on the shelf, unproductive, as desolate as its mistress who sits by the bedside of little Avi* at Schneider’s Oncology Clinic. Will the aura of Yom Tov enter their home at all this year? That was the question back in Elul. Ezer Mizion, the support system of a family in time of crisis, made sure it did. The special foods and the accompanying distinctive Yom Tov atmosphere were provided by a cadre of Ezer Mizion volunteers who care when a fellow Jew is in trouble. Some cooked, some packaged and some delivered…all joining together to lift the spirits of a family who cannot even begin to create the holiday ambience on their own.
Every Thursday, Ezer Mizion sends out hundreds of freshly-cooked Shabbat meals throughout the country to such families. The month of Tishrei, which is replete with days of Yom Tov, presented Ezer Mizion with the challenge of multiplying the scope of its activity many times over:
On Thursday, 26 Elul, triple deliveries were sent to homes of families with a sick member, including meals for Shabbat and two days of Rosh Hashanah.
On Thursday, Erev Shabbat Shuvah, the regular delivery went out, and almost immediately afterward, on the following Monday, meals for the Erev Yom Kippur seudah mafseket (meal prior to the holiday) and for Motzaei Yom Kippur (meal after the holiday) were prepared, packed and delivered.
Only a few short days later, it was time to send meals for Shabbat and the first day of Sukkot.
The final double-size delivery took place on Thursday, the third day of chol ha’moed, to cover Shabbat chol hamo’ed and Simchat Torah that follows.
Daunting? Yes. Impossible? No. Not with so many caring people joining together.
Aharon Saltzberg, head of the Municipal Social Services Division of Herzliya is just one of the many heads of municipalities throughout the country that thanked Ezer Mizion for rallying to the cause in providing baskets of chicken, fish, wine, honey, cake and a variety of basic products for 200 Herzliya residents.
As in every Ezer Mizion project, the goal is not to achieve the minimum but to maximize the joy of each family. Towards that end, the meals were accompanied by a surprise: a special Yom Tov gift for each child. No, not a gift for the family to share but an individually wrapped gift, addressed by name, to each child, complete with a personal note. How we wish that all the private individuals, schools, stores, manufacturers, importers could be present as the gifts that they donated to Ezer Mizion for this project were delivered. One can only imagine the natural, childish pleasure of children that have almost forgotten what the sensation feels like. This year 1100 gifts were distributed to families battling with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.
Merits for the Day of Judgment
Naturally, this huge increase demanded a significant boost in the corps of volunteers who collect the meals and distribute them, the volunteer packaging team at the Ezer Mizion’s kitchens, and above all, in the team of women cooking fresh and satisfying yom tov meals.
In order to meet the challenge, Ezer Mizion rallied additional volunteers to put in extra time, effort and reap added merits by cooking more than their usual amount. The call went out for more manpower, to those who have not yet joined the network to sign up for this special volunteering opportunity, which illuminates the Shabbat and chag for families coping with a crisis situation. This surely gained volunteers and their families numerous merits for the Day of Judgment, in addition to giving them the tremendous satisfaction of knowing that as they sat down to the Yom Tov meals with their families, another family was also enjoying those home-made delicacies, thanks to their generosity and willingness to rally to this vital volunteer work.
For further info: ezermizion.org