Pesach 5770/2010 has come and gone, and as usual, hundreds of people who otherwise would have had no Seder and no holiday instead have great memories of a wonderful holiday experience – some for the first time in their whole lives – thanks to Beth Shifra, the famed Brooklyn-based organization whose mission for more than four decades has been to help those of the New York Jewish community who need help the most: poor people (and there are many), new immigrants, elderly people, shut-ins and just plain, ordinary people who otherwise might have little or no connection with Yiddishkeit.
Due to the current economic crisis the turnout at Beth Shifra’s programs was greater than usual. “People are drowning more than ever,” says Rabbi Chaim Prussman, Beth Shifra’s founder, who notes that for many families, especially these days, celebrating Pesach may have seemed like the impossible dream, with all of the many expenses that come with the holiday. He advertised everywhere from his home base in Brooklyn to places as far away as Monsey, Spring Valley, Monroe and Orange County through posters, fliers, newspapers and announcements in synagogues to let people know.
The Passover Haggadah commands us to “let all those who are hungry come in and eat” – that is exactly what Beth Shifra did during the recent holiday, throwing open their doors at the various locations where it ran free Sederim on March 29th and 30th, inviting anybody and everybody who did not have a Seder to go to, to “come in and eat.” Beth Shifra also served meals on-site to those in need all eight days of the holiday and distributed untold numbers of food packages, so people could observe the holiday properly at home when the Sedarim were over.
“It was absolutely unbelievable,” Rabbi Prussman exclaimed, “we served more people than ever before – and everyone was served with a smile, and at absolutely no cost to them. We turned away no one,” with masses of people showing up for Sedarim each night at Beth Shifra’s temporary Pesach headquarters, the famous Georgie’s Restaurant at 44-24 16th Avenue, in Boro Park.
For many of the guests, particularly those from such places as the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, it was the first time in their lives that they had ever even been to such a beautiful Seder – and they were not disappointed by the experience! There were well-led Sedarim in English, Russian and Hebrew, with Rabbi Prussman, on hand to answer any questions people may have had.
Throughout the whole eight days, in addition to the hundreds of free meals which were doled out, there were shiurim, (lectures) and other activities that lasted deep into the night. The packed crowds also enjoyed a stimulating Aish Discovery program with ice cream. Through out, the whole holiday Rabbi Alexander Guth gave lectures on the bassis of Jeudaism and took from world renown kiruv seminars to help strenghthen jewish identities into hundreds of thirsty guests. Besides the Sedarim and the food giveaways at Georgie’s, Rabbi Prussman said, there were also a number of literally homeless people who showed up – and were found places to spend the night.
While all of this was going on in Boro Park, Beth Shifra, was also running Sedarim, preparing food and giving away food at a number of satellite locations, including the Luna Park Houses in Coney Island, and the shul of Rabbis Mordechai and Sorya Sorcher at 2102 Avenue T. Several other communities also came to get extra food, “and it was a great success!”
It was all in a day’s work – or, in this case, eight days’ work – for Beth Shifra, which has been working tirelessly since 1970 to help the most vulnerable members of New York’s Jewish community. Frequently, the help has been spiritual – by running Torah education programs and by vigorously countering brazen missionary efforts to lure unwary Jews away from their faith by dishonestly blurring the lines between Judaism and Christianity. At other times the help has been material in nature, with Beth Shifra helping them find apartments, jobs, furniture and affordable yeshivas and summer camps for their children.
In wake of this year’s great success, our hosting MORE people and giving away MORE free food than ever – Beth Shifra now has a stack of bills to pay that stretch wider than the Red Sea while some of the food, labor and other necessities are donated, the rest must be purchased. We look to you to help us part the water so that Beth Shifra can stay afloat and continue to take our brethren out from Egypt for many more years to come.
Thank You to all the Newspapers, Jewish community Members, Rabbinical Alliance of America and the Jewish Community Councils that helped get the word out.
Please DO YOUR PART to help Beth Shifra pay for Passover and continue to serve our community year round, with a tax-deductible contribution:
Beth Shifra, P.O. Box 700, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11229
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CALL BETH SHIFRA at (718) 449-1397 , or visit its website:www.bethshifra.org. We are pleased to announce that this year we had over 9000 hits for pesach!
Beth Shifra’s activities on behalf of New York’s Jewish community have been endorsed by many gedolim, other prominent rabbis and numerous community leaders.
We would like to thank the following who helped pack and distribute food, serve meals and conduct Sedarim: Nefesh Academy H.S. girls, David Strait, Steve, Tikvah, Avraham, Rabbi Alexander Guth, Shmuel Gershbein and his friend Frank, Yaakov Sacui, Rabbi Avner Bitton, S. Twerski, Rabbi Preiger, Rabbi Berkstein,Rabbi Sorcher’s shul family and students, Rabbi Berkowitz and Father, Kuppey, Management of Georgie’s Hall, Kedem Wines, Gold’s, Streit’s Matzah Co, Igor-Moshi Glatt Kosher, Rabbi Lebovic of GoKosher, Rabbi Hettelman, Raskin Fish Mkt, Benny – Globex Kosher Foods, BaTempte, Klein’s Kosher Ice Cream, Blooms, Fresh & Healthy, Gefen Foods, Goldstein Press for our insurance needs,Fishman Grocery, RiteLite Toys, Jack’s Eggs, Quality Frozen Foods, Paperific on 38th, Copy Cat, Reliable Circulars-Mitch,The Tzeitung/News Report, Der Yid, The Blatt and Faigey from the Algeimeiner Journal; Carrol from Very Graphic ink, Mothers’ Helper, TV Views, The Monsey Advocate, Rabbi Kassin’s Russian Papers and the Forward, RussianTVGuide,Vechny1 & Boro Park Community News.