Gift of Challah Brings Sabbath Joy to Israel’s Impoverished Citizens

August 9, 2018

3 min read

Everyone wants a peaceful weekend. Yet, for Israel’s impoverished citizens, there is no tranquility because of their hunger pangs. To ease this suffering, Meir Panim charity organization maintains a “Challah for Sabbath Project.”

In its second year, the successful “Challah for Sabbath Project” program aides struggling Israelis who rely on Meir Panim for a daily meal. This program ensures that impoverished Israelis have something to eat over the Sabbath.

Meir Panim free restaurant-style soup kitchens are opened Sunday through Thursday,” explained Mimi Rozmaryn, Director of Global Development for Meir Panim to Breaking Israel News. “Before this project, our daily customers were left without food on Friday and for the Sabbath.”

Challah is a sweet, braided bread traditionally eaten by Jews on Friday night and Saturday in honor of the Sabbath. Through the “Challah for Sabbath Project”, every patron who visits Meir Panim on Thursday is gifted with two fresh-out-of-the-oven challah loaves.

“We distribute approximately 15,000 challahs a year from our soup kitchens and include challahs when delivering food to those who are homebound through our Meals-on-Wheels program,” continued Rozmaryn. “Each challah costs about $1.30 and is funded by our generous supporters.”

The “Challah for Sabbath Project” not only fills hungry bellies but also warms souls. Many of the challah recipients say that the smell of the fresh challah brings them back to happier times when their families shared a festive Sabbath or holiday meal together. “It is heartwarming to see the deep emotions a few warm challahs can bring a person,” noted Rozmaryn. “This program is, in many ways, both a spiritual as well as physical life-saver.”

The Bible is replete with references to the blessings that come with baking challah. For example, the Talmud explains that the tent of Biblical Mother Sarah was known for its special holiness, including that her dough remained fresh and nourishing all week.

“You shall further give the first of the yield of your baking to the kohen, that a blessing may rest upon your home.” (Ezekiel 44:30)

This implies that when you donate to feed others, your home will be blessed.

Meir Panim providing Sabbath challah for the needy. (Credit: Meir Panim)

Meir Panim was established over 10 years ago to help alleviate and diminish the debilitating effects of poverty in Israel. The organization serves hot, nutritious meals to hungry and lonely people in five strategic locations throughout the country. On Thursdays, they distribute 30 percent more food so that people can take home packages to sustain themselves over the weekend. The “Challah for Sabbath Project” is an addition to this standard fair.

“Though Meir Panim feeds everyone who comes to their premises, no questions asked and irrespective of their religious affiliation, we have found that the “Challah for Sabbath Project” brings a bit more tranquility to our struggling patrons over the weekend,” said Rozmaryn. “Doesn’t everyone deserve an extra touch of sweetness and care in their lives?”

To donate to Meir Panim, please click here.

Written in cooperation with Meir Panim.

Make your own traditional braided Sabbath bread-challah!

Challah recipe. (Credit: Meir Panim)

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