Shabbat Shalom

Shalom WJC Family,

This coming Shabbat, the one preceding Purim which falls this Monday night and Tuesday, is known as Shabbat Zachor. Customarily it is a Shabbat to speak about Antisemitism and with everything going on in the world, I will be addressing that topic in my remarks on Saturday morning and it is also the topic of the attached video.

This marks the start of a busy time of year. Along with the Purim Carnival this Sunday and the Megillah Reading and Wine Tasting on Monday night, Purim kind of marks the beginning of the Passover season. That’s why the theme of Friday night’s Moth Story Hour is : Stories from the Passover table. I am looking forward to sharing a favorite story from my table, in fact. It is also why we are tasting kosher wines after the Megillah Reading – because we will need a bunch of it for the “four cups” at the seder. Speaking of which – if you are not sure where you will be spending seder this year and would like an invite, please let me know. If you have space at your seder and are comfortable having guests, please let me know that too. We are happy to match people up!

After all, seder is a time to share what we have, it is an important part of celebrating freedom. That’s why I am including our annual Project Ezra Appeal below. I hope you will participate this year and help us ensure a Happy Passover for our friends at Project Ezra.

Shabbat Shalom,


Dear WJC Family,

As Passover 5783 approaches, there are a lot of big issues drawing our attention. At such times it can be easy to lose sight of the simple challenges facing so many people daily. The seder reminds us of this – even as we celebrate the most glorious and memorable redemption of one people from another in the history of mankind, we sit down and announce the harsh reality, “Ha Lachma Anya, this is the bread of poverty.” It is the hagaddah’s  way of reminding us that even as we contemplate the intoxicating moment of national freedom, we are required to face the individual reality of hunger and need. The haggadah’s focus on poverty represents what has become a core value of Judaism: we will not be satisfied until all are free from need.

For more than two decades our Westchester Jewish Center family has expressed this value by committing to support Project Ezra, an amazing organization that depends upon food and funds from synagogues to provide financial support and kosher-for-Passover staples to their approximately 300 elderly, frail, and often homebound clients on the Lower East Side.

The covid-19 pandemic changed the way this support happens – Project Ezra is more dependent on the collection and distribution of funds now than before and so we are adapting our collections as well:

  1. We are asking you to donate generously to Project Ezra. These funds will be distributed to the elders by checks which they use to purchase the Passover foods they need and want. Send your checks, made out only to “Project Ezra”, and send to WJC- SOJAC. If you prefer, send your check directly to Project Ezra, 387 Grand Street- Ground Floor, NY, NY 10002; Please be sure to note “WJC” in the memo. The drive is already underway and ends on March 24.  In the past three years WJC has raised a generous amount, accounting for close to half of what is needed. (Other synagogues donate the rest.) Please, let’s do it again!
  2. We want this Passover to be sweet for the elders, so we are collecting cans of Kosher for Passover macaroons and dried fruits or nuts. We will collect only these items from February 19 – March 19 at WJC. All items must be marked Kosher for Passover and dated 2023. We will have bins by the office and in the lobby. Please donate only what is requested. The elders will love these traditional Passover treats! The elders will love these traditional Passover treats! You can also shop online for these items on our Amazon Wish List.

Last Passover WJC provided over $8,000 in donations to Project Ezra, a significant increase over previous years. Given the increase in the cost of food, we believe that special Passover foods will be even more costly than in the past two years- approximately $50.  If we can continue at last year’s level, we would cover about half of the costs involved, allowing Ezra to send checks to approximately 250 elders. Our goal this year is to match or exceed our Passover donations for Project Ezra, as the need is great.

The “Ha Lachma Anya” section concludes, “Now we are here, next year we will be in the Promised Land.” What Promised Land do we mean? If we wanted to celebrate in Israel, many of us could. Perhaps this Promised Land is a metaphor, a reference to a time when fewer of our treasured seniors will know hunger. WJC is a mainstay of Project Ezra. They have expressed tremendous gratitude for our caring and generosity now and over the years.  They appreciate that we have accepted the deeper meaning of the haggadah, the demand of the Feast of Freedom, to support the most vulnerable among us to be free from hunger and the shackles of poverty. Let us continue our mitzvah of redemption of the poor in honor of this holiday of redemption from tyranny.

Wishing you a meaningful Feast of Freedom,
Rabbi Jeffrey Arnowitz


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