In every society there’s a need for charitable giving. No matter how industrious or innovative a place, someone will be in need, and prioritizing donations, taking care of the needy and helping the impoverished is a mark of that society’s generosity and humanity.
On Purim, the holiday where Esther and Mordechai vanquished Haman and Jews celebrated with acts of goodwill, cheer and charity towards one another, it is mandatory to hand out gifts of food in spirit of the holiday. Each Mishloach Manot is meant to be equipped with the things that could potentially build a celebratory meal.
While this sharing food makes an annual appearance in Jewish communities, Yad Ezra V’shulamit works tirelessly to fulfill this need every day.
Yad Ezra V’shulamit was built on the principle that no child in Israel should go without food. Founded by businessman Ariel Lurie, who grew up without the basic necessities like food and clothing, Yad Ezra works to remedy poverty stricken communities. Together with a thousand selfless volunteers, Mr. Lurie makes sure that 3,000 food baskets are assembled and distributed to thirty cities across the nation every week.
On Wednesday morning fruits, vegetables and all manner of produce are brought to the main distribution point where volunteers begin to separate the food and assemble the parcels. Each volunteer is usually waiting, gloved and ready to begin. By Thursday, each package has been delivered to distribution points across the country, to be picked up by poor families. For those needy families who cannot make it to the distribution point, parcels are delivered to their door.
This is a weekly ritual for the organizers and dedicated volunteers who work at Yad Ezra V’shulamit.
Ariel Lurie used to watch his mother salvage discarded cucumbers from the trash bins outside of the outdoor markets. She did this in order to provide lunch for her and her children. Mr. Lurie is therefore committed to ensuring no child in Israel grows up without a plate of food, clothing and a warm blanket.
Yad Ezra V’shulamit continuously acts in the spirit of charity and social responsibility. Not only does it distribute 3, 000 food baskets every week it aims to improve lives in every way. In addition to the weekly basket distribution, twenty-three thousand baskets are handed on Passover and Rosh Hashanah.
The organization also runs 2 children’s centers for needy youth. The centers function as a haven for young children, a place for them to receive a warm meal in an environment of safety and hope. 200 children benefit from these centers, entering through the doors and receiving hot meals, educational support, as well as the chance to play games and take part in activities. These children are proven to exhibit an increase in mental wellness as well as an improvement in their studies. Children are also given parcels of food to take home with them as they leave to help feed their siblings who did not accompany them, siblings who would otherwise have had to face the cold reality of an empty fridge.
This is just one example of Yad Ezra V’shulamit’s initiatives. The organization also goes to great length to help to combat the difficulties of winter. The organization gives out new coats, new shoes, backpacks, school supplies, blankets and heaters every season. Mr. Lurie extended Yad Ezra Vshulamit’s capabilities in this area a few years ago, by taking out a loan and buying thousands of blankets and heaters. He used public radio to invite all those in need to pick up blankets and heaters from a distribution point.
Motivated by his own experiences he has helped the suffering population of Israel, Yad Ezra V’shulamit continues to be a symbol of pure chesed, each initiative an immediate response to the nations’ needs. It is an endeavor performed from the heart, out of selflessness, kindness and a need to care for all the people of Israel.
In that vein, Yad Ezra V’shulamit also provides emergency relief to victims of war and terror, Mr. Lurie even having gone shelter to shelter to distribute food in the 2014 war when people were afraid to go grocery shopping.
On Purim we don’t only celebrate our victory over annihilation we are also reminded to regard every member of Israel as family and worthy of our attention. Purim may act a springboard to this act of generosity, encouraging us to provide a meal so people can perform the Seudah.
Let us make it our imperative, along Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, to ensure that every person in Israel has access to a hot meal and hopeful tomorrow.