United Jewish Organization of Williamsburg (UJO) and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty held a Passover food distribution giveaway, last Sunday, to help provide holiday meals for 3,000 Orthodox families in North Brooklyn. Many Orthodox Jews live in large households, so 3,000 families really isn’t anything to sneeze at; that’s a lot of food, and it necessitates a lot of space: fifteen trailers, to be exact, each carrying an average of 22 pallets worth of grape juice, sweet potatoes, onions, and other Kosher essentials for the Seder evening and holiday meals.
The giveaway, which lasted from morning through evening, was held at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which has hosted the giveaway for several years now. Previous incarnations of the event saw the work done from “Distribution Square”, an impromptu location that was assembled at Wallabout Street and Union Avenue.
This year, the group took donations for the distribution in honor of the Glauber family. The Glaubers – Nachman, Raizy, and an unborn child – were killed in the early morning hours of March 3rd by a speeding motorist, a tragedy that brought a media storm to the Orthodox community of Williamsburg throughout much of the first half of this month.
Alongside UJO Executive Director Rabbi David Niederman at the charitable occasion, were several prominent local officials. Assemblyman Joe Lentol helped pack the trunks of several queued up vehicles with all the supplies needed for the coming holiday. “It’s about the human interest,” Lentol said. “We need to make sure hungry people get the food they need to eat for Passover.”
District Leader Chris Olechowski also attended; Olechowski, who received Rabbi Niederman’s endorsement during his race last September, said he was “humbled by the invitation. It’s a great thing to do, to help poor families in our community. There’s just a basic human element to doing this, and it’s a great gesture on the part of the Orthodox community to give during these difficult economic times.”
Niederman called the event “bittersweet,” pleased to help those in need, but regretful that not everyone is able to afford life’s necessities.
The muscle behind the food giveaway came from a team of 20 Shomrim (volunteer civilian patrols), who gave their energy throughout the day to ensure that the event went off without a hitch. Families came through in cars to pick up the food and were given cards based on family size to signal the rations they would be receiving. Councilmember Steve Levin saluted the Shomrim, the UJO, and the Navy Yard for all the work they put into the event’s coordination, saying that “the amount of food here is extraordinary. It’s tangible; this is going to make a real impact on people’s lives.”
Other officials, including Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Martin Dilan and Erik Dilan, Councilman of the 37th District also helped distribute food.
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