When four generations united in Israel to celebrate Chaim Moshe Kahn’s bar mitzvah, no one expected that the highlight of this rite-of-passage would be feeding the impoverished. Yet that is the experience that stands out in the mind of each family member. “We shared a fabulous time together in Israel, hiking through gorgeous Ein Gedi in the south and doing water sports on the Mediterranean,” shared Adi Kahn, resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh and mother of the bar mitzvah boy, with Breaking Israel News. “But, I have to honestly say that the activity we keep speaking about is our day at Pantry Packers, packing food packages for Israel’s needy citizens.”
Pantry Packers is one of many successful social welfare projects organized by Colel Chabad, Israel’s longest continuous running charity organization. Volunteers arriving at Colel Chabad’s food packing plant in Jerusalem watch an informative film about the 1.7 million Israelis living below the poverty line and join an assembly line, packaging and boxing food staples for thousands of needy people throughout Israel. Kahn reported to Breaking Israel News that great-grandmothers Ruth Mermelstein and Gladyce Moseson, both from New York, were particularly moved by the activity. Mermelstein, nearly 90 years old, survived the Auschwitz death camp during the Holocaust and Moseson lived through the Great Depression.
“My grandmother knows first hand the pangs of hunger and watched family members and friends starve to death,” expressed Kahn. “It was shocking for all of us to learn that in the promised land there are so many people going to bed hungry, not knowing where their next meal is coming from.” In fact, every month Colel Chabad delivers 5,000 food packages and basic home supplies throughout Israel. Kahn stated that the intensity with which the great-grandmothers packaged the food was not lost on the younger participants.