“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” With the above words actress Mayim Bialik, who plays Amy Farah Fowler on NBC’s Big Bang Theory, demonstrates the power in the hands of our volunteers. She continues, “Leket Israel is one of those organizations you can’t believe didn’t exist before it existed. They feed 175,000 people every day through partnerships with more than 200 non-profit organizations. Those are staggering numbers. One man started it. One group of individuals made it grow.” She had occasion to work with Leket Israel for her son’s Bar Mitzvah, a coming of age ceremony for jewish men. She chose to have him volunteer because the experience of helping others, especially in the Land of Israel, will strongly encourae him to have a helpful attitude and love of Israel throughout his life. “When a boy is 13 and when a girl is 12 or 13 (depending on which denomination of Judaism you belong to), they become bar or bat mitzvah. This literally means son or daughter of the commandment; a “mitzvah” is generally viewed as a positive commandment to do something good. In Judaism, it is a ritual milestone that involves anything from a party to an elaborate Sabbath service with the child being called up and blessed before the congregation. Many students of this stage of life are encouraged to take part in a charity project as part of their bar or bat mitzvah training. In a sense, an integral part of being counted as a Jewish adult is the acceptance of the responsibility and obligation to repair the world. The project can be a small project such as volunteering somewhere or a larger project involving dedicating time, energy and maybe even some of your bar or bat mitzvah monetary gifts to a particular organization.” Contrary to her character on TV, a shy, bookish, neuroscientist more likely to dissect a brain than carry containers of produce, Mayim describes her and her son’s time in overwhelmingly positive terms, “The food is brought to the Leket warehouse where we got to work. It is loaded onto conveyor belts (and yes, I totally felt like Lucille Ball working the conveyor belt, inspecting beets and turnips) and into crates and then it has to be packaged by volunteers. We put, for example, seven oranges into bags; four large eggplants or seven little ones into bags. And we sorted beets and turnips until we were dizzy.” safe_image.php.jpeg She continues, “Then the bags of produce and the hot meals collected are driven all around Israel to families in need. Leket Israel distributes food to people of any religion, race and kind. In addition, they give nutrition and dietary counseling to families in need. My sons are no strangers to manual labor, but this kind of work is definitely not something they are used to. We worked for three straight hours, and they loved it. Prone to organization and order since birth, my sons loved this entire process. Leket runs a very smooth warehouse and it was so lovely to see everyone volunteering together to package everything up.” She concludes with a ringing endorsement of Leket’s work, “My son was initially skeptical about volunteering at a warehouse for his Bar Mitzvah project, but I think he will forever remember it. To join the covenant of Jewish adulthood, he went outside of his comfort zone, got his hands dirty, and did his part to make a difference in the world. I wish that for him forever. And I also wish that Leket will continue to transform lives through feeding the hungry.”

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