The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty gave out more than 700 packages of kosher provisions at the Bensonhurst Council of Jewish Organizations on Aug. 22, ahead of the Jewish New Year next week.
Hundreds of low-income earners lined up in front of the Bensonhurst Council’s building on 21st Avenue between 86th Street and Benson Avenue to receive parcels of apples, grape juice, canned fish, and ingredients for traditional soups — all prepared in accordance with Jewish religious dietary laws. The Metropolitan Council said it was part of a citywide effort to give away 300,000 pounds of kosher food before Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown on Sept. 4, and to allow struggling Jews to celebrate the high holy day in comfort.
“Rosh Hashanah is a time of renewal and forgiveness, and we want everyone to be able to welcome in the New Year in a dignified manner,” said spokeswoman Rena Resnick.
A 2011 study found economic privations on the rise among New York City’s Jews, with one in four households in the community living below the poverty line. Resnick said this is in large part due to the influx of Russian-speaking Jewish emigres from the former Soviet Union — a growing demographic in Bensonhurst.
“There are issues with being able to speak English, and just being an immigrant coming into the city,” Resnick explained. “We definitely have seen more need for our services than ever before.”
Kosher food is expensive, and Resnick said the 41-year-old Metropolitan Council tries to allow poor Jewish New Yorkers keep their faith through trying times.
“Doing kosher food is very important for people. We don’t want them to have to worry about being able to afford to practice their religion,” said Resnick.