Each year on the High Holidays, we ask members to bring in a grocery bag filled with non-perish-
able food items. This food drive is part of a national program called “Operation Isaiah.” The reason
it is called Operation Isaiah is that, on Yom Kippur, in the morning Haftarah reading, the prophet
-Is this the fast I desire, a day for men to starve their bodies?
-Is it bowing the head like a bulrush and lying in sackcloth and ashes?
-Do you call that a fast, a day when God is favorable?
-No, this is the fast I desire:
-It is to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into your home.
-When you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to ignore your own kin.
Our fasts are meaningless unless they are accompanied by understanding and empathy for those who
truly do not have enough to eat.
Over the years, our members have literally brought in tons of food during the Yamim Noraim, the
High Holidays. While the concept is a global one and the fulfillment of a mitzvah called Ma’achil
Re’evim, I want to make sure you all know that its impact is local. The food is donated to the
Alameda County Food Bank, which distributes it to those in need right here in Oakland and other
parts of the East Bay. Without the Jewish community donations during the High Holidays, they
would be scraping by until Thanksgiving, when other large scale donations come in.
The Alameda County Food Bank is also affiliated with a program called “Good Cents for
Oakland,” which creates awareness about hunger issues among elementary school children through,
among other things, having the children collect as many pennies as they can. Our own Mechina
(Kindergarten) class in the Hebrew School participates in this vital program every year with their
teacher Dawn Margolin.
Many of you may be unaware that Temple Beth Abraham also has its own endowed Hunger Fund
called the Celia and Morris Davis Hunger Fund. Celia and Morris were founding members of
Temple Beth Abraham and welcomed people into their home as well as the synagogue. In honor
of their generosity of spirit, this fund was established to help feed hungry people in the community.
Relatives Tobe Burnstein as well as Robert and Arlene Davis are still members of our synagogue
today. This fund has assisted many people in need in our community, including members of our
own congregation. At this time of the year, especially with so many in need because of today’s econ-
omy, it is worthwhile to consider making a donation.
Hunger is a global problem and a global issue that can seem overwhelming. But as we approach
the new year, realize that we can start by thinking and doing something about it locally, through
Operation Isaiah, Good Cents for Oakland, or the Davis Hunger Fund.