On Yom Kippur afternoon, we will read in the Holiness code in Leviticus 19 God’s instructions to us about what we can and cannot harvest from our fields. We’re instructed not to harvest the crops in the corners of the field, not to pick up any portion of the crop that falls to the ground and not to harvest all the fruit on the vines.
That part of the harvest must be left for the poor, the widow and the orphan. In fact, even though we might be the farmers who planted the crops and the grape arbors, that part of the harvest doesn’t even belong to us. It is the rightful portion of the less fortunate.
Even though today most of us are not farmers, and even if we were, it is unlikely that there would be gleaners to gather the crops left for them, the message is clear. It is our responsibility to feed the hungry.
And there are hungry people in Louisville. While technically our economy is in recovery, unemployment continues to remain high. Many people who were downsized – let go from their jobs through no fault of their own – have difficulty finding new positions despite consistent efforts. Some have been unemployed so long, they’ve exhausted their benefits.
Dare to Care and the Jewish Family & Career Services Food Pantry continue to report increased requests for food assistance to get them through the month. Without this help, they would go hungry.
In fact, Dare to Care was started because on Thanksgiving Eve, 1969, nine-year-old Bobby Ellis starved to death in his Louisville home. Last year, Dare to Care and its 300 plus local partners, including the JFCS Food Pantry, provided more than 12 million meals to more than 192,000 people.
As Jews, it is our responsibility to do our part to ensure that these resources continue to be available to our community; and one of the easiest ways to do that is to participate in the annual Dare to Care Hunger Walk. This year’s walk will depart from Waterfront Park’s Festival Plaza at 2:15 p.m. on Sunday, September 9.
The Jewish community will be there in force. Organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council, a division of the Jewish Community of Louisville, the Jewish community once again has the opportunity to be one of the largest delegations in this year’s walk.
This is an easy way to fulfill the mitzvah of feeding the hungry. Just go to thehungerwalk.org and click “Register Here.” Select “Join a Team” and select Jewish Louisville from the list. There is a minimum donation of $25 for an adult walker or runner and $15 for a youth walker or runner age 18 and under.
If you can’t participate in the walk, you can make a donation to Dare to Care on behalf of the Jewish Louisville team. Dare to Care can provide four meals for every dollar donated. That means a $25 donation can provide a week’s worth of meals for a struggling family of four. A $100 donation can help provide warm meals in the evening for two children at their local Kids Cafes for an entire year.
Leon Wahba is chairing the Hunger Walk for the JCRC. “The single biggest benefit I derive from my participation in this annual, community-wide mitzvah,” he said, “is the pleasure of seeing so many from our caring Jewish community unite in support of this important mission. The good folks at Dare to Care know, and they greatly appreciate, the Jewish community’s out-of-proportion participation in the annual Hunger Walk.
“The proceeds help stock the pantries of many faith congregations throughout Kentuckiana,” he continued. “Our own JFCS avails itself of some of the supplies there.
“Besides,” he added, “and I cannot explain why, whenever the Hunger Walk is scheduled, it’s always a beautiful day for a walk with friends and family. All are invited, including parents with prams or strollers.”
There will also be a Hunger Walk Festival at the starting point from 12:30-4:30 p.m. It will include entertainment, a Kids Zone by Kazoing with inflatables, the Bubble Bus and more, as well as free food and refreshments. You will also be able to buy food from some of Louisville’s finer food trucks.
Interfaith Paths to Peace is working with Dare to Care on this Hunger Walk. The title sponsor is Aramark, and other major sponsors are Yum!, Fifth Third Bank, Kroger and Ford.
Most of the money raised will go to Dare to Care Food Bank. A portion will also go to the World Food Program in support of their efforts to fight hunger around the world.
Is there a better way to prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur? I can’t think of one. Please join the Jewish Louisville team or make a donation to support it today.