For Israeli non-profit Meir Panim, the past few weeks have been very busy. Their five branches across the country have been teeming with life and initiatives, as they got ready to celebrate the upcoming Jewish festival of Purim.
“While making sure that each of our patrons is taken care of daily, we are also looking ahead to Purim,” said Rena Ben-Ezra, Director of Special Projects at American Friends of Meir Panim.
Indeed, some of the commandments given for the holiday embody the core mission of the organization, one of the largest in Israel devoted to tackling the issues of poverty and food insecurity: exchange of food gifts with one another and charity to the poor.
“The same days on which the Jews enjoyed relief from their foes and the same month which had been transformed for them from one of grief and mourning to one of festive joy, they were to observe them as days of feasting and merrymaking, and as an occasion for sending gifts to one another and presents to the poor,” reads a verse in the ninth chapter of the biblical book of Esther.
For weeks, Meir Panim staff and volunteers have been working on preparing mishloach manot (as the food gifts are known in Hebrew), decorating their facility to “increase the joy” as Jews are required to do in the month of Purim, and making sure that all the patrons have what they need to celebrate the holiday.
The organization runs five Restaurant-Style Soup Kitchens in Tzfat, Jerusalem, Tiberias, Or Akiva, and Dimona.
In addition, Meir Panim provides food shopping cards, delivers Meals-on-Wheels to those who do not have the ability to visit their facilities, and runs special programs for Holocaust survivors and groups from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Every year, thousands of people from Israel and abroad volunteer at Meir Panim’s facilities.
Last month, for example, the Or Akiva branch welcomed a group of mothers and daughters visiting Israel from the UK as part of GIFT Israel, a program to celebrate Banot Mitzvahs in the country. A group of Golani soldiers also volunteered at the same branch.
In addition, the organization’s Sderot Program Center recently hosted a special workshop for young children in elementary school who live in a neighborhood very close to the Gaza Strip.
The goal of Meir Panim remains clear: helping Israelis in need from all backgrounds and increasing their joy and quality of life, on Purim and every day of the year.
To honor Purim, help Meir Panim support Israelis in need. Donate now.
This article was written in cooperation with Meir Panim.