June 3, 2013

Kosher Soup Kitchens Expand Worldwide as Jewish Poverty Soars

Jerusalem…There was a time when the kosher soup kitchen was considered a relic of the past, a throwback to the poverty-stricken shtetl of Eastern Europe. But in recent years, Jewish communities worldwide discovered that Jews were not immune to hunger. This finding has given rise to a growing number of kosher soup kitchens in Jewish communities all over the world. Soup kitchens in Israel, by such organizations as Beit Batya, serve thousands of meals daily. Chabad in Israel has opened a number of kitchens in remote Israeli towns and Jerusalem is said to have nearly a dozen major kosher soup kitchens. In the US, Masbia sponsors kitchens in several Jewish neighborhoods in New York City, under the aegis of Met Council on Jewish Poverty which serves some 155,000 Jewish poor. In Milan, Italy,  Chabad was set to launch what is said to be the first kosher soup kitchen in Italy. The initiative will be a canteen providing free takeaway meals to needy people and will be located in the Merkos school, according to the announcement. Similar Merkos projects are under way in Australia and Brazil, according to Chabad. The Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) historically sponsored many kosher soup kitchens and is still believed to support such kitchens in poverty stricken areas in the former Soviet Union. Officials say that Jewish poverty has spiked in recent years, affecting many Jewish communities who were previously spared the need for feeding poor Jews.