Urgent appeal to help struggling families with food this Pesach

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Urgent appeal to help struggling families with food this Pesach

An appeal this weekend hopes to raise £300,000, as some of those affected speak to the Jewish News of their experiences

The appeal launches this weekend and hopes to raise £300,000
The appeal launches this weekend and hopes to raise £300,000

When Samuel’s partner of 25 years was unwell, he would bring Frank Sinatra records down from the bedroom to play to her. 

After she passed away last year, Sinatra’s records, and the movie Ocean’s Eleven which they would watch together, only remind him of her.

“We were always going out together … We never had many friends, it was just us,” said the 74-year-old.

Samuel is one of those being supported by the United Synagogue’s Chesed department, which is running a 36-hour appeal this weekend to raise £300,000 to support around 4,000 Jewish people this Pesach and beyond.

The pensioner, who Jewish News is calling Samuel as he wishes to remain anonymous, revealed how he had fallen into depression after being left on his own. As he doesn’t use the internet, he felt isolated and cut off from the world and could not do online shopping for himself.

“When she passed away, I found it very hard to take,” he said. “She was so full of life, such a lovely, kind person.”

However, he has found a “lifeline” in a weekly food parcel delivered to him by shul volunteers at Finsbury Park synagogue, who also set up befriending calls for him.

“It’s a lifeline for me,” he said. “The other people that live here are quite withdrawn into themselves. I hate feeling sorry for myself, but I do have bad days.

“But the people helping me have been wonderful.”

A mother being supported by the appeal told the Jewish News how her family had struggled after losing work in the pandemic.

“Our circumstances have changed, not out of choice,” she said. “My husband works full-time, but my job isn’t guaranteed.”

The mum, who has teenage children, said the lost income has meant a struggle to put food on the table. “All the things we used to be able to buy, we’ve had to cut to the absolute basics.”

The family has been supported by Chigwell and Hainault synagogue, and have received food boxes to help. “It’s such a welcoming community,” she said. “When you get a lovely box, it brings the struggle right back down.”

US Chesed estimates that around 4,000 vulnerable people and families will need help with food vouchers, Seder boxes and general food supplies.

“The past 12 months has wreaked havoc on our community. We could never have imagined a year ago that every single week we would need to deliver food parcels to some 100-150 families in need,” said Michelle Minsky, Head of the United Synagogue Chesed’s department.

For 36 hours, every donation will be doubled to help people this Pesach and beyond starting on Sunday.

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