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In the News 2017-07-17T00:37:18+00:00

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April 4, 2017

Sam Spiegle, left, and Luke Marks were part of a team of JCC Maccabi athlete volunteers April 2 who packed and delivered Pesach provisions to seniors. Working together with Park Synagogue volunteers, over 225 packages were delivered in one day. More seniors received food throughout the week. Photo/KFP

As Passover approaches, families often begin going through the checklist of food items needed for Seder and the holiday. Some local organizations are adding another item to that checklist: making sure homeless and needy residents of the community are taken care of this Passover.

Devorah Alevsky, director of the Kosher Food Pantry, 2004 S Green Road in South Euclid, said its senior delivery program makes it unique.

“Most food pantries open and whomever comes during a specific time can get food,” she said. “Our program delivers bags to 1,200 low-income seniors in the area.”

Rabbi Avrohom Adler, director of the Cleveland Chesed Center, 1898 S. Taylor Road in Cleveland Heights, said the center has been preparing to help the less fortunate as Passover approaches.

“We try to help the homeless and needy with free food staples, such as macaroni, fish, chicken, paper and cleaning supplies,” he said. “We do this on a constant basis. Before Passover, because we understand that the clients we are serving, the needs are greater, we try to up the ante and help out even more and provide food and basic necessities that will be used for Passover. We provide extra fish, matzah, macaroons, kosher grape juice and so on.”

Jessica Morgan, from left, director of agency services at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, Rivka Goldstein of the Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry and Nicole Novinec, senior partnership specialist at the food bank.

The Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry received a $3,000 grant from the Greater Cleveland Food Bank in recognition of its effort in delivering food to seniors.

“With this $3,000 grant, and support from the community, our kosher food pantry plans to operate a larger delivery truck and hire a full time driver, allowing us to expand monthly delivery to 250 more seniors than the 1,200 we currently serve,” said Devorah Alevsky, pantry director. “This massive operation necessitates a new, reliable delivery vehicle.”

The pantry soon will supply matzah, grape juice and other Passover foods, along with regular produce and grocery items, as part of its senior delivery program. Joining the pantry in to distribute this food are Park Synagogue, The Temple Tifereth-Israel Temple Women’s Association, JCC Maccabi athletes and students from Notre Dame College in South Euclid, Alevsky said.

“The kosher food pantry put together a wonderful grant proposal that outlined how these funds would help improve their already successful grocery delivery model,” said Nicole Novinec, senior partnership specialist at the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. “While the KFP continues to raise money for a delivery truck and driver, they have managed to increase the number of seniors they are serving each month.”

The pantry will hold its outdoor produce pantry from 4 to 6 p.m. April 3 at Green Road Synagogue, 2437 S. Green Road in Beachwood.

“It’s exhilarating to be able to help so many people on such a grand scale in just one afternoon,” said Rivka Goldstein, pantry project manager.

“Past outdoor produce giveaways have attracted over 200 local area families. We are also very grateful to our friend and community partner, Green Road Synagogue, for graciously hosting this effort year after year.”

For more information about the pantry, to receive food to volunteer or to donate, call 216-382-7202 or visit

Hannah Appel with the items she collected for the Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry

On a Sunday morning in early October – which also happened to be erev Rosh Hashanah – adults, kids and families volunteering at the Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry formed a human conveyor belt of sorts. One person would pack a donation bag full of cookies, produce, pancake mix and other assorted foods, while the next prepared the bags for transportation, and finally, someone organized the bags into a very full, white van to deliver to recipients.

Jacob Pincus, 13, of Beachwood, who came to volunteer with his dad, Stephen, 49, and sister, Miriam, 17, was already quite familiar with the pantry.  Jacob volunteered with the pantry for his mitzvah project, almost a year ago.
“I learned how hard some people work just to get food to people who are less fortunate,” Jacob says.
According to a 2014 report from Feed-ing America, 19.4 percent of Cuyahoga County residents faced food insecurity. The Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry, one of the largest agencies of the Cleveland Food Bank, serves 4,000 people each month.

As teens like Jacob and Hannah Appel, a Beachwood girl who took donations at her bat mitzvah for the pantry, work with the pantry for mitzvah projects, they learn not only about providing healthy food in the Jewish community, but also lifelong lessons of tikkun olam.
Jacob, his parents Amy and Stephen, and two sisters Miriam and Sarah, 20, moved from Pittsburgh to Greater Cleve-land in 2011. Stephen is a lawyer for the Na-tional Labor Relations Board in Cleveland, and Amy works for the Friendship Circle in Pepper Pike – both service professions that inspire the family’s commitment to serving in the community. Thus, as members of the Green Road Synagogue in Beachwood, they wanted the family to be active together in the Jewish community.
“We had previously lived in Pittsburgh where it was a more diverse community, and I think that it is important that people who grew up here know there are other people right down the block who you may not meet on a day-to-day basis but that these are people who are part of our community that we need to take care of,” Stephen Pincus says. “These are lessons people should have throughout their lives, and the earlier they get started, the better.”
Amy Pincus connected the family with the pantry and they soon began volunteering.
“Since we moved here, we’ve been a big part of the kosher food pantry,” Jacob says. “It just felt right, I guess.”
Thus when it became time for Jacob’s mitzvah project, he was already used to the fast-paced, yet friendly, atmosphere.
“We came on Sundays and had a list of food to put in each bag and we had to make close to 100 bags each time,” Jacob says.
He also organized food drives for the pantry at his school and synagogue as part of the mitzvah project. Speaking at his bar mitzvah last November, Jacob talked about the pantry and the important work done there.
An eighth-grader at Fuchs Mizrachi School in Beachwood who plays on his school’s bas-ketball team and plays guitar, Ja-cob still fi nds time to volunteer at the pantry on occasion.
“As parents, we want to leave an ethical legacy to our children that is based in Jewish values, not material things,” Amy Pincus says. “When we pass on this tradition of giving, our children have a strong moral compass that will guide them throughout their lives.”
Devorah Alevsky, director of the Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry, expanded the pantry after taking over for her parents, Rabbi Zalman and Rebbetzin Shula Kazen. Her parents were Russian immigrants who led Congregation Zemach Zedek, an Orthodox synagogue in Cleveland Heights, and founded the pantry.
“We feel very proud that we are not only helping the needy and the struggling families in our community,
but that we’ve really created a way where young people are actively involved and learning the concept of tikkun olam and charity and kindness,” Alevsky says. “It really goes hand in hand because without the volunteers we couldn’t possibly do what we are doing.”
The pantry is now at 2004 S. Green Road in South Euclid. In addition to having an open pantry on Thursdays from 6 to 7 p.m. for people to pick up kosher foods, the pantry also delivers food, including fresh produce, to senior apartment buildings and goes door to door for those unable to leave their homes. The group’s ability to deliver foods lets them give out more fruits and vegetables than many food banks, since recipi-ents do not have to lug heavy produce home, especially if they do not drive.
“Hands-on activity really makes a diff erence in learning sharing and caring,” Alevsky says. “These are things people always remember about themselves.”
Hannah Appel, 13, started volunteering at the pantry through a J-Teen Mandel JCC summer camp program and quickly connected their work to her own family history.



Tyler Moses, Josh Baker and Aidan Gross pack Passover provisions for the Kosher Food Pantry

It’s hard enough to cook for one family for Passover – let alone all who are in need.

Yet, that’s exactly what a couple of Cleveland-area organizations aspire to do.

For groups like Bikur Cholim of Cleveland and the Kosher Food Pantry, they are busy all year and somehow even busier at Passover.

On a regular basis, Bikur Cholim houses those from outside the area who might be in town for a medical operation, for example, and provides them with kosher food. They also stock area hospitals with kosher food – should a patient require it.

“Obviously, during Pesach, it’s a very big job, because we have to change over everything,” said Chaykie Mann with Bikur Cholim.

While Bikur Cholim may make 100 meals for 40 families for Shabbat, that can turn to 400-plus for Passover, in part because of how much longer the holiday is and thus how much longer the food must last.

“We send out everything from soup to nuts,” Mann said. “We do it on a weekly basis for the Shabbos, but for Passover, we send out obviously much more because it’s a long holiday.”

At the Kosher Food Pantry, deliveries are expanded to cover the usual goodies – fruits, vegetables and produce – and Passover-themed items – both foods and brochures about the holiday and when the candle lighting time is. The organization also hosts weekly “shopping” days where people get needed goods from their pantries.

“What’s extra about Passover is we don’t cut back on the regular foods we give out but we supplement with Passover foods,” said Rivka Goldstein, project manager at the Kosher Food Pantry.

All of this requires plenty of labor.

Take Bikur Cholim’s hospital pantries, which need to be cleaned and restocked for the holiday. At some facilities, Bikur Cholim has numerous areas to be cleaned. For example, at University Hospitals, the organization stocks a pantry – as well as cabinets in the labor and delivery, and emergency areas.

“We’re sending our volunteers all over to change over all the cabinets and pantries,” Mann said.

The organization also needs drivers – “a lot of drivers,” Mann said – to deliver all the meals. She noted the hundreds of women that help cook meals and parcel them out.

“It’s a whole system and it’s incredible,” Mann said.

For the Kosher Food Pantry, where the usual delivery doubles for the holiday, lugging all that extra grape juice and matzah isn’t easy.

“There’s a lot of physical work involved in this. We don’t have any magic wand that just floats these bags into people’s houses,” Goldstein said, “but like I told everybody you’re going to feel really good when you sit down at your seder and you read that part in your haggadah that says ‘all who are hungry’ because you did something to help people who are hungry.”

Fortunately, Goldstein said that Passover seems to inspire the need to give in many community members. She spoke of a recent group of young professionals that came to help, driven by the desire to “come before Passover and do that good deed.”

Cash is also an appropriate gift, according to Goldstein. In fact, giving $18, for example, is preferable to giving $18 in food products, since the organization may be able to procure food at a cheaper rate.

The work these groups do is always important. There are always families in need.

Goldstein notes how expensive some produce can be. Just the other day, she said she marveled at the high price of sweet potatoes. Despite certain improved economic indicators, she said she is seeing more people in need than ever.

The need may bear extra significance for Passover, however.

“The haggadah starts with all who are hungry, and we don’t really believe in having an empty place at the seder,” Goldstein said. “This is the one time that all Jewish people gather together, no matter how committed or not committed you are the rest of the year.”

Jeff Piorkowski, special to Sun News on August 27, 2015 at 9:54 AM


Kosher Food Bank volunteers who packed grocery bags on Aug. 25 were, from left, Nancy Leviton, Rose Leder, Chany Klein, Lauren Rubin, Shira Atik, Nancy Sternberg, Kalli Sternberg, and Lilianna Gershenovich. (Jeff Piorkowski/Special to Sun News)

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio — In Jewish culture, performing a mitzvah is doing a good deed.

The Cleveland Kosher Food Bank, tucked away in a small garage-like building off South Green Road, next door to Senders Pediatrics, is a place where many good deeds are done. In a typical month, food to fill 3,000 bags of groceries are collected from the Cleveland Food Bank and through donations, bagged, then delivered to those in need in the area.

Among the approximately 100 volunteers at the Kosher Food Bank is Debi Slater. The Solon resident, a certified wellness coach and member of Solon Chabad, bags groceries and organizes volunteers. For Slater, pitching in to help the needy is not merely a matter of performing a mitzvah.

“This is bigger than me,” Slater said of the need for food many face. “I don’t even think about it, it’s just something I have to do, to help.”

Most every day, volunteers are in the small Kosher Food Bank building, 2004 S. Green Road, packing food and delivering it to people living in low-income, subsidized apartments and to senior centers in the Heights area.

Ben Katz, a supporter of the Kosher Food Bank for five years and a Beachwood resident, said that just because there is a need for a food bank is reason enough to help.

“There are people living in Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights and Beachwood who have no idea that there are people living among them who don’t have enough to eat, whether because of an illness or job loss or their circumstance in life.”

Katz, who works in the employee benefits business for a financial planner, donates monetarily to the Kosher Food Bank, while his wife, Michelle, helps pack bags of groceries. Further, Katz lends his time to speak with the food bank’s leadership to help them maximize their efforts and to ensure a presence on the internet.

Founded 40 years ago by Shula Kazen as a means to aid Jewish refugees who had moved to the Cleveland area from Russia, the organization is now directed by Kazen’s daughter, University Heights resident Devorah Alevsky.

The Kosher Food Bank has grown to distribute more produce than any other participating agency of the Cleveland Food Bank, and to serve as the only food bank that delivers.

While the food delivered is kosher, Slater said only about 80 percent of the people served are Jewish.

Slater said she was once asked by someone within the organization if she liked doing work for the Kosher Food Bank. She proceeded to recount an experience to that person about delivering to non-Jews in a low-income apartment, the only turn she took as a delivery person.

“I delivered bags to the (units in the) apartments,” Slater said. “It was just so sad. I became verklempt (overcome with emotion).”

As Slater recalled the memory, her voice became heavy with emotion.

“It was very upsetting,” she said. “I told (the co-worker) I can’t do this (delivery) any more. So, I bag and organize the volunteers”

Kosher Food Bank Project Coordinator Rivka Goldstein said the organization needs volunteers and donations of money and kosher food.

“There are a number of Jewish families in the area who need food,” Goldstein said. “There are more Jewish families in need in the Cleveland area than a lot of other cities, like Chicago and Baltimore.

“This is a good time to think about donating to the Kosher Food Bank because Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) is coming (Sept. 13-15), that’s a time a lot of people want to do good things.”

Those interested in donating or volunteering, or those in need (income guidelines apply), can call the Kosher Food Bank at 216-382-7202, or visit

Posted: Friday, February 14, 2014 8:15 am

DevorahAlevskyCJNThe Cleveland Jewish News is partnering with the Semach Sedek Russian Immigrant Aid Society Kosher Food Bank in South Euclid to raise funds to provide families with food for Passover.

More than 1,500 students at local Hebrew schools will receive greggers, or small cans, traditionally used as noisemakers on Purim. Instead of filling the greggers with beans, the students will be asked to fill them with coins. The Kosher Food Bank will use the money for Passover purchases.

“We want to make sure that everyone can get their Passover provisions,” said Devorah Alevsky, director of the Kosher Food Bank, who added that the biggest challenge for the food bank is to provide people with kosher proteins and meats, especially during the holidays.

“We’re grateful that we’re able to help others. That’s something that I’ve been taught from my parents and I’ve tried to teach that to my children.”

The idea for the greggers came from a retired Hebrew schoolteacher who made a donation to the Kosher Food Bank last Thanksgiving. When Alevsky called to thank the woman for her donation, she told Alevsky about a past project at her Hebrew school in which children filled greggers with coins and donated the money to charities. Alevsky liked the idea. Volunteers at the food bank were recruited to assist with the project.

Alevsky said part of the celebration for both Purim and Passover is to give charity and food to the poor. The project falls in line with those traditions.

“The best feeling a person has is when he or she has given something to someone,” she said.

Kevin S. Adelstein, Cleveland Jewish News publisher and CEO, said, “The Kosher Food bank does a wonderful job of feeding the needy in the area, and as Passover approaches, there is a greater need in our community. We have an obligation to help our own and we firmly believe this alliance and important initiative will lead to more donations that will help feed more people. This is one such way in which the CJN can give back to the community.”

The CJN has enlisted the assistance of the Ohio Northern Region BBYO which willingly offered its assistance to help collect and count the coins.

The Kosher Food Bank, which is a branch of the Cleveland Foodbank, provides more than 1,500 bags of food each month to Jewish and non-Jewish individuals living in the eastern suburbs of Cleveland. Alevsky said she hopes this project will raise awareness of the Kosher Food Bank and encourage more people to utilize the food bank for food assistance.

Alevsky said that it has sometimes been a challenge for the Jewish community to engage the younger generation, but she feels this project will help to keep Jewish traditions alive.

“It’s always been our dream that our children should follow in these traditions and this is a great way to do it,” she said. “In this way we’re actually following the tradition but in a very fun and engaging way. This way the children are learning that they can enjoy giving.”