We’ll see you in there.
Connect to customize your food & drink discovery.
On Passover, Jews all over the world come together around the seder table. But, this will be the second year in a row where for many, that feels like a distant reality.
Last Passover, Jewish families traded the company of their loved ones in for virtual celebrations, incorporating ancient tradition into a digital age, and this year will be no different.
However, Passover Food Drive, run by the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada (NCJWC), is helping to keep the festivities going. The Toronto-based organization has been providing Kosher for passover supplies to families with limited funds since 1983. Moreover, with thousands of Jewish families in Toronto living below the poverty line, their services are essential. Gail Crystal, chair of the Passover Food Drive, explained that their goal is to "provide individuals, seniors and families that are in need, with Kosher for Passover foods to help celebrate the holiday with joy and dignity."
Food is the most important component of Passover. Not only does it play a symbolic role in re-telling the story of the Jews being freed from slavery in Egypt, but Seder night itself is centred around enjoying a delicious feast.
"The cost of Kosher for Passover foods is prohibitive for those who can barely make ends meet," says Crystal. "[The food drive] allows the community to share their joy of the holiday in a meaningful way [and] to show that their fellow Jew is not alone."
The operation usually relies on hundreds of volunteers to prepare and distribute the meals, as well as food donations from schools, stores and drop-offs, but because of the pandemic the NCJWC in Toronto has purchased all of this year’s food directly from wholesalers, with packing and delivery being outsourced with the assistance of United Jewish Appeal (UJA) in Toronto.
Not only that, this is the second time the Passover Food Drive will be distributing supplies during COVID.
"[It] has impacted our normal operation significantly... we had to pivot and make decisions even though we did not know what things would look like week to week," says Crystal.
What would usually be a joyful gathering on delivery day had to be rethought. But according to Crystal, the strength of community prevails even in the face of adversity. Though there are no in person volunteers this year, individuals have come through in support with fundraising and monetary donations.
On a normal year the organization provides around 2,000 families with all the necessary items for Passover and Seder Night. But, they have seen a rise in demand in 2021, which meant increasing the food orders with suppliers. More money still has to be raised in order to cover the additional costs, but Crystal notes it's integral to not let costs hinder their celebrations in a time where we need it most.
"We know how difficult this year has been on so many, and we don’t want to leave anyone behind," she says.
The organization works predominantly through referrals, though it is also possible to connect through your Rabbi, Synagogue or in person.
If you wish to make a donation you can do so online or call 416-633-5100.