Middle school students and supermarket employees joined together Tuesday to ready 1,000 pounds of kosher Passover food for donation to a food pantry whose manager said the goods will help Jewish people who cannot afford the traditional holiday fare.
Matzo, grape juice, gefilte fish, farfel and Passover cookies were among $13,000 worth of items that The Stop & Shop Supermarket Co. and students from private Jewish and Lutheran schools assembled for the Alix Rubinger Kosher Food Pantry in Massapequa.
The donation is "greatly appreciated and it's greatly needed," said Iris Astrof, head of the all-volunteer organization run by Congregation Beth-El, also in Massapequa. "We've seen more people come to our pantry than ever before. Even though the economy may be improving generally, for these people it hasn't improved."
Rabbi Anchelle Perl of the Chabad of Mineola noted that the event, held at a Stop & Shop in Carle Place, "highlights the hidden need of food assistance within Nassau County's Jewish community."
Passover, which starts April 3 at sundown, is a weeklong commemoration of the Jews' historic exodus from slavery in Egypt 3,300 years ago. Many Jews mark the major holiday with ritual-laden seders, festive dinners that generally take place the first and second nights of Passover.
It was the largest Passover donation that Stop & Shop has made in its New York Metro District, which includes New Jersey and southern Connecticut, said Arlene Putterman, director of community and public relations for the supermarket chain. Last year, the company donated $5,000 worth of kosher Passover food through one of its Queens stores.
"Today is about giving back," Putterman said.
Students from Schechter and Long Island Lutheran Middle and High School, in Brookville, brought nonperishable kosher goods to add to the supermarket's donation.
"Giving to people who are in poverty is a good deed because they don't have anything and they should have something to celebrate Passover with," said Gillian Leeds, 11, of West Hempstead, a Schechter sixth-grader who brought a matzo ball mix.
Sirena Winakor, 14, of Mill Neck, said members of LI Lutheran Middle School's Peace Group participated partly to show that people of all faiths can help one another.
"I love that we are coming together, and I love that I'm helping all the Jewish people," she said.
Legis. Norma Gonsalves (R-East Meadow), presiding officer of the Nassau County Legislature, said, "Hunger is a problem no matter what community you live in, and it's a problem year-round."
Using a Hebrew word for a good deed, she said, "We are doing a mitzvah today."