A group of 25 pastors recently visited Meir Panim’s free restaurant-style soup kitchen in Jerusalem. Many of these pastors regularly collect charity for the organization which provides approximately 1,800 fresh, nutritious meals daily to Israel’s neediest citizens.
“My congregation collects hundreds of dollars per month for Meir Panim as part of the fulfillment of the Biblical dictate in Genesis 12:3, ‘I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you,’” shared Pastor Ron Neff of Grace Covenant Church in Pennsylvania to Breaking Israel News. “I am confident that the money we donate to Meir Panim is used well and resourcefully.”
The pastors generally donate some of their ministries tithes to Meir Panim through Eagles’ Wings, a global movement of churches, ministries, and leaders which emphasises humanitarian care and interfaith dialogue. Eagles’ Wings arranged for the visit in order to show first-hand the impressive work of the organization in helping the impoverished with dignity.
Noting a plaque hanging prominently on the wall of the free restaurant which reads in part, “This is an official Eagles’ Wings Feeding Center.”, Goldie Sternbuch, Director of Overseas Relations for Meir Panim, shared with the crowd, “Seven years ago, Eagles’ Wings flew in as an angel for Meir Panim, giving their heart and help to this charity.”
Sternbuch continued to explain that the impoverished suffer many long term ramifications, including anxiety and health issues. She asked rhetorically, “What will human resources in Israel look like in 15 years if one in three children today live in poverty and hunger? Poverty is affecting the future of Israel.”
Reverend Robert Stearns, founder and executive director of Eagles’ Wings, addressed the group by saying, “Meir Panim runs incredible feeding centers throughout Israel to help God’s children. Eagles’ Wings is blessed to make a difference to the Holy Land and the people here, who we love so passionately.”
Part of the visit was to show the Eagles’ Wings participants the new location of the Meir Panim Jerusalem branch, located just around the corner from its present location. Sternbuch explained the importance of the relocation. “All Meir Panim free-restaurants must be centrally located with easy access to public transportation in order to help poor people attain food as comfortably as possible,” she said. “However, these central locations are costly, prime real-estate, placing Meir Panim in a catch-22 situation. Years ago, Pastor Stearns pointed out to us that we are doing the right thing but this present restaurant is too small and needs too much upgrading to make it cost effective.”
The new building is going through extensive renovations in order to maximize the usage of the space. Innovative ideas are in the works so that Meir Panim can continue to give the freshest food to patrons and raise much needed funds for the organization as well.
One idea is to use the space as a standard restaurant alongside the free Meir Panim restaurant. Meir Panim patrons will receive a credit-card like swipe card in order that no one should know who is a paying customer and who is not.
“Meir Panim feeds all who are hungry in a dignified fashion, without asking questions,” continued Roth. “Jews, Christians and Moslems are all served in our free restaurants.”
The visit was completed with Meir Panim receiving a $10,000 check from Eagle’s Wings along with expressions of mutual admiration at the great work of both organizations.
Stearns reflected, “When Jews rejoice, we do too. When Jews feel pain, we also do.” to which Roth said, “The love and generosity of Eagle’s Wings towards Israel and Meir Panim in particular is heartwarming. I didn’t know that Orthodox Jews could partner with Christians and that the partnership could get so close.”