A meaningful morning and more

Last month, we were invited to our Canadian friends’ daughter’s bat mitzvah. It was a three-part celebration with different invitations and groupings for each. The Torah reading in Jerusalem was for family only, but Philippe, Daniella, Simone and I were invited to the party on the rooftop of a night club in Herziliya, across the street from the beach.  The most meaningful part, however, preceded both, a mother-daughter sandwich-making morning at Leket, which Simone and I attended.

Told to arrive at 7am on a Wednesday before school with our hair up and closed-toe shoes, we headed for Raanana’s industrial area with the diagramed instructions in hand. After turning in several circles, Simone and I finally found the low warehouse building and dirt parking lot. Some half a dozen Leket trucks and a handful of SUVs and minivans sat and sizzled in the sun. We raced into the main building and immediately spotted a smaller room where our group was gathering just in time for the head volunteer/local mom to pass out plastic aprons and gloves along with Leket baseball caps to each of us.

Huddled together, we listened attentively to this woman explain about the program. We learned that more than one-third of Israeli children live below the poverty line, around 850,000 of whom are hungry. Many attend school on empty stomachs and have difficulty concentrating on their studies. Thanks to the efforts of the Sandwiches for Kids project, each morning hundreds of volunteers in 24 cities prepare over 7,000 sandwiches, which are then supplemented with rescued fruit and dairy products, also provided free of charge to those in need.

In Raanana, a thriving city 15 minutes north of Tel Aviv whose residents are mostly Israeli with large populations from English, French and Spanish speaking countries, we tend to think or assume that everyone lives with ease in above-average surroundings. Yet despite the visible prosperity—lush, tree-lined streets and constant new construction—Leket delivers sandwiches to a handful of Raanana’s school children every day. Even here kids go hungry; we had no idea.

The woman in charge divided us up according to different tasks: slice rolls, mix the white cheese and olives, spread cheese on bread, wash and pack apples, bag sandwiches. Eager to help, we formed assembly lines and waited for those in front of us to finish and for those behind us to pass. We celebrated the start of a new year, the last of the holidays and Yara on becoming a bat mitzvah. On this video, Simone and her friends are busy at work, all smiles, happy to help.

An hour later, we had finished packing about 350 lunches to be delivered to a few schools in Raanana as well as in the neighboring towns of Herziliya and Kfar Saba. The girls left for school while a few of us stayed to load our cars and deliver the goods. My friend Anna and I inched our way through traffic to drop off about 10 bags at four different elementary and middle schools in Kfar Saba to the east. Each time we pulled up alongside a building, a guard greeted us warmly, thanking us for our packages. Our work for the morning might have been finished, but the message has not been forgotten.

From left to right: Daniella, Tamar, Rebecca, Simone, Mirav, Yara around the table

A month has passed. It is now late November and, after a full week of rain, the sun is shining strong, again. All the trees have their leaves and the flowers are continually in bloom. As soon as 5pm hits and the sun sets, there is a distinct chill in the air, making us reach for a fleece or extra layer. Nothing about it feels like late fall or Thanksgiving for that matter. Yet, last Thursday, we joined friends (American, South African, Israeli and Canadian) for a festive meal with a massive turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and marshmallows, green beans, salad and pumpkin pie. We are so grateful, not only for the abundance of food and the friendship in our lives, but also for the freedom and ability to be able to reach out and contribute in some small way.

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19 Responses to “A meaningful morning and more”

  1. Mom/Grandma Marianne November 27, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    A wonderful project and beautifully expressed! Fun video too! love…

    • Jennifer Lang November 27, 2011 at 7:51 am #

      Thanks, Mom!!!!

  2. Jill November 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Great piece! Is this a must do for us next December? Last visit we worked at hazon yeshaya soup kitchen in Jerusalem cooking and serving on site- maybe we should visit Leket?
    Love reading your stories!

    • Jennifer Lang November 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

      It is an amazing organization with tons of projects and volunteer opportunities. They’re listed in English on the link in the article. Only thing is with sandwich making is it’s one hour and early in the morn, which, I know, works for you.

  3. Doris Fankhauser November 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    This was a lovely story especially around Thanksgiving time. What a great project

    • Jennifer Lang November 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm #

      Thanks, Doris. I hope you had a wonderful holiday however and wherever you celebrate it. hugs

  4. auntie mona November 27, 2011 at 6:38 pm #

    Isn’t this the same org that we worked at for Ben’s Bar Mitzvah? with a name change from Table to Table? (a headquarters with multiple sites)

    loved the read and great experience for all!!!


    • Jennifer Lang November 27, 2011 at 7:59 pm #

      Tis the same indeed, but they changed their name. It is still as fabulous as before, maybe more so because they do so much more today for many populations. xo

  5. Jeanette November 28, 2011 at 1:04 am #

    Great reading your stories as always. Is that the Levinson girls from San Jose? Say hi to Shelley from me. Keep on writing, miss you.

    • Jennifer Lang November 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

      Those are the Levinson girls indeed. Good buddies with my girls. Funny, right? I’d love a pic of yours if you can send one. xo

  6. Cheryl November 28, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    Thx for blogs sharing your experiences and insights on Israel.
    Great Leket mitzvah & project! Glad you had fun on Thanksgiving.
    Stunning yoga studio. Miss your classes.

    • Jennifer Lang November 28, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

      Thanks, Cheryl. Are you yoga-ing? COming to Israel any time soon? How’s your family? Feel good, Jennifer

  7. mirav orzo November 28, 2011 at 6:30 pm #

    hi jennifer
    finally had a chance to go on your blog.so interesting and fun. sounds like things are working out really well.Happy belated thanksgiving to you and your family.send regards.

    • mirav orzo November 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

      hi jennifer
      sent a note not sure if you got it.please confirm so i know i am responding correctly.

    • Jennifer Lang November 28, 2011 at 6:44 pm #

      Thanks, Mirav. It is all good. I am OK, kids are good, spirits are fine. HOw are your munchkins? How is middle school and bat mitzvah prep? Love to one and all. xo

      • mirav orzo November 28, 2011 at 7:17 pm #

        hi jennifer
        munchkins are great!they truely miss Daniella and continue to build with couch pillows!Joelle is loving school even with all the challenges that comes along at this level.She also misses Daniella.They used to sit at dinner and Joelle would ask Daniella so many questions about school,teachers,and things…Bat mitzvah …..well i find myself circling around it on a daily basis and at some point i stop and do something.I will not get caught up!well lets just see as we get closer.wish you could be here and be part of our simcha.I am truely enjoying whiteplains and getting settled in a little at a time.today i am sitting and catching up with your blog and truely enjoying every moment.I never got a chance to read any o your writings so i must say” you are quite good my friend!”
        will stay in touch.still havent bought tickets for pesach to israel but still planning somehow somewhere to come.have a great week.

        • Jennifer Lang November 28, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

          xo Mirav… to you and your family… I am so glad WP feels like home. Send it and everyone my love.


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