Taking a look back at two hunger-related stories from the past covered by the Jewish News.
I read the cover story in the Sept. 10 issue of the JN with great interest. In 2020, like antisemitism, hunger is still with us. With the pandemic and its accompanying severe economic woes, unfortunately, hunger, like antisemitism, will be on the rise in the near future.
It was therefore heartening to read Madeline Halpert’s recent story about Hazon and Chad Techner doing their best to “rescue” extra food around the city and use it to alleviate hunger. This is an admirable partnership, to say the least.
I was also very interested in the “Food Rescue” story for another reason. Recently, while on one of my frequent (one might say, obsessive) searches in the William Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History, I ran across two related hunger stories from the past.
First, I read about the launch of the JN’s yearlong campaign to fight hunger in Metro Detroit in 2005. The campaign was launched to coincide with Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish New Year and the High Holidays. An editorial by then-Story Development Editor Keri Guten Cohen introduced the campaign in the Sept. 29, 2005, issue of the JN.
Much like the current focus on antisemitism throughout 2020, the JN published stories that year about efforts made by organizations and individuals to combat hunger, and sponsored events that raised awareness and resources. All proceeds were donated, non-kosher items to Gleaners food bank and kosher items to Yad Ezra, which leads to my second point of interest — Yad Ezra is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
Yad Ezra’s vision is succinct but powerful: “A Jewish Community Without Hunger.” And, for the past three decades, “Michigan’s Kosher Food Pantry” has provided millions of pounds of food to Jewish families in need around Southeast Michigan.
My search for “Yad Ezra” in the William Davidson Archive showed that its name appeared on 4,371 pages of the JN since 1990. In short, there are many stories about and photos of Yad Ezra volunteers and the good deeds they performed. Several of these stood out. The Sept. 29, 2005, issue of the JN that launched its campaign has excellent stories by Shelli Liebman Dorfman about then 15-year-old Yad Ezra. I also like that issue’s cover photo of Lea Luger, Paul Finkel and Elaine Ryke in the Yad Ezra warehouse.
The Feb. 16, 1990, issue of the JN reported the opening of Yad Ezra, with very nice photos of its first director, Jeanette Eizelman, and volunteer Rabbi A. Irving Schnipper. I also liked the photo of volunteers in the Dec. 6, 2018, JN when Yad Ezra celebrated over 20 million — yes, that is 20 million — pounds of food distributed to needy Jewish families.
Hunger is still an issue in Metro Detroit. However, the efforts of organizations such as Hazon and Yad Ezra, to name just two, and of individuals like Chad Techner and all those who volunteer their time and effort, and because the Detroit Jewish community as a whole provides support in a myriad of ways, fewer families will go hungry this year. Tikkun olam in action, I would say.
Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.