Israel is undoubtedly a very prosperous country but the division between the haves and the have-nots can at times be frighteningly large. Statistics reveal that a quarter of Israel’s citizens are living below the poverty line and among them are 850,000 hungry children. At the same time, literally hundreds of thousands of tonnes of perfectly good nutritious food are needlessly destroyed each year. In 2000 this led Joseph Gitler, an American immigrant, to establish what is now called Leket Israel – Leket is a term used in the Torah requiring farmers to leave a certain amount of food for the poor.
Leket is now the largest supplier of food free of charge to over 180 nonprofit organisation serving over 140,000 people on a weekly basis. In addition volunteers prepare up to 8000 sandwiches every day to give underprivileged children – sometimes to take home to their siblings – in over 30 cities.
There are about 55,000 volunteers working for Leket all over Israel. The organization itself has some farms, the land of which has either been gifted to the charity or is available on very favorable rates. A huge amount of food is grown there, and much of the harvesting is done by volunteers, who also rescue 60,000 meals a month from over 250 food establishments.
Beit Oleh America and Canada in Netanya, Netanya AACI has a team of volunteers, coordinated by David Rubenstein who collect from four restaurants in the shopping mall at Ir Yamim in South Netanya, receiving the food that is left over when they close at 10 PM. They then go to a baker’s shop where they often receive five or six large black bags full of perfectly good loaves, burekas, cakes and biscuits. The collected food is taken to a distribution center in the middle of Netanya and by the next morning has all been distributed.
The fact that Israel needs this organization is a tragedy. The fact that so many volunteers work for it, is a tremendous tribute to our community.
If you would be interested in helping out with this most worthy mitzvah, please contact David Rubenstein at email@example.com
Volunteers should have a car and be available for two hours once a month at about 9.30pm to collect food and deliver it to the distribution center.