This year, the Reform Movement set a national challenge to its communities; to collect as many items as they could for their local foodbank over 7 weeks, culminating on Mitzvah Day. 23 synagogues rose spectacularly to the challenge, collecting over 5,500 items between them.
The items were collected under the banner of RSY-UK, the newly established coalition of all local Reform youth activities in the UK.
One synagogue who joined in the efforts is Bromley Reform, based in South London. Their members gathered over 1,000 items towards the appeal. At their Chanukah party, attendees paid for goodies with tins of food to give to the food bank in a creative move to inspire donations. Bromley is planning to continue to gather donations throughout the winter months to keep stocks high at their local food bank.
Head of Cheder Frankie Gruzd commented, “Supporting our local community is a big part of who we are at Bromley Reform. The RSY-UK national food drive resonated with our emphasis on ma’asim tovim, many good deeds at many times and places – it was great to play a part in achieving a national goal, as well as a local goal to collect over 613 items of vital food, festive treats and hygiene items for those who rely upon our local food bank.”
Participating communities were kept updated via weekly item totals and an online counter, and all joined together for a Havdallah at the end of the campaign where they heard from a food bank volunteer and a campaigner from Rene Cassin about how we can work towards a world where nobody needs to rely on food banks as they have enough to live on.
Naomi Raanan, who coordinated the project, commented, “Bringing our UK-wide reform communities together to work on a social action project has really shown our young people how together, we are able to achieve so much, our voices are louder and we can make a difference. Most communities will continue to collect and donate to foodbanks after this 7 week food drive due to their success.”
Helen Michael, head of education at Sinai Synagogue in Leeds, commented, “We decided to support the RSYUK Food Drive because we think it’s really important that our young people recognise that there is a problem of inequality, injustice and poverty throughout the world, and that this includes the UK and the city where we live, Leeds. We really hope that we will be able to keep going with this important work well beyond Mitzvah Day.”
Carol Green, head of Cheder at Radlett Reform said, “Radlett Reform have been excited to be part of this nationwide project. Sadly, food banks are a necessity to many families and though it would be great not to need them, it has been good to educate our children to think of others and make their weekly donations. We have some members who volunteer at the local Borehamwood Food Bank and we are looking forward to delivering our collection to them- let’s hope that we are making a difference to local families.”