The Jerusalem Market, 3 p.m. before Passover
It’s 3:00 in the afternoon and the central market in Jerusalem (Machaneh Yehuda) is still bustling with last minute shoppers. Shmura Matzah is now going for 30 shekels a pack instead of the usual 50 and everywhere people are loading up on even more kosher for Passover cookies, cakes, salads, wine, food, food and more food. Passover is one of those holidays that people in Israel, at least the ones who stay in the country, take very seriously. And when friends, family and guests are assembled nothing is too good, no price is too high to make sure that all attendees roll away from the table with guts ready to bust.
But in Israel, much like in any other modern western economy, poverty and hunger are endemic and persistent. Not everyone will go to sleep tonight thanks to a food induced coma. Thankfully, there are many organizations and food banks dedicated to helping assuage this situation. One of the most interesting and innovative of these groups is an organization called Table to Table.
Table to Table takes advantage of the fact that in any modern society, food production and distribution results in 25% of the food going to waste. How so? For instance sometimes market prices for produce make it economically disadvantageous for farmers to cultivate their produce. Table to Table steps in and gets volunteers to pick the produce rather than letting it rot in the fields. Similarly, food processing factories will not deliver food to supermarkets that is within a week of it’s best before date. Table to Table sends refrigerated trucks to pick up this food. All the food that Table to Table collects then gets distributed to various food banks around the country where it reaches the nation’s poor and hungry.
Above and beyond their ongoing mission, Table to Table ran a special program this Passover. Called the Hametz Initiative, Table to Table set up up various drop off locations where people could leave their Hametz rather than just throwing it out. The Hametz is then distributed to needy non-Jews rather than letting it all otherwise go to waste.
Thinking of making a donation to a worthwhile organization? I would urge you to consider Table to Table. I also want to take this opportunity to thank Leah Stern of the Israel Broadcast Authority who helped me hook up Daniel Schwartz, Assistant Director of Table to Table with a televised interview on Israel TV.