Choosing a Mitzvah is a highly personal decision in a young man or woman’s life, and should be unique to your passions while also serving the Jewish community at large. When it came to picking my own Mitzvah project when I was twelve years old, I took some time to think about what was most important to me. Some of my fondest childhood memories were of the high holidays spent with my family, celebrating and eating together. Food, family and Emuna (faith) are been deeply connected in my mind, so working with Maot Chitim, providing food to needy Jewish families in Chicago, was an easy pick for my Mitzvah.
Tzedukah, or “Charity”, is a large part of the Jewish faith and practice, a cornerstone of your life as a part of the Jewish tradition. Although I could have done a more private Mitzvah like reflecting deeply on a favorite prayer or designing Shabbat candles, at that age I felt that charity work most inspired me, and was important to my journey into adulthood.
For charity work I could have done many things, from collecting and donating toys to fundraising for groups or becoming directly involved in one of many local charities in Chicago. I wanted to pick an organization to work with that was important to what I love about being Jewish, while also helping those in need in Chicago. I knew that when I presented my Mitzvah during my Bat Mitzvah to friends and family as something personally meaningful I would inspire them to think deeply upon their own Mitzvah, either as projects for their upcoming Bar or Bat Mitzvahs or as a member of the Jewish community.
I quickly decided on Maot Chitim, a group focused on delivering food to those in need. I believed strongly in helping the needy, and to provide support to those in our community. Maot Chitim’s food delivery during high holidays provides sustenance and ensures that no one is left hungry. Food support through the year also provides a way through which the needy can adhere to the daily traditions of our faith with dignity and pride.
Maot Chitim provides meals to the Jewish community in Chicago, both for high holidays and for the food insecure year-round. Not only do they bring individual baskets around the city, they also send bulk shipments to other organizations focused on the same mission. Their charity spoke to me as a member of the Jewish faith and as a member of the greater Chicago community.
Volunteers and donors are the backbone of Maot Chitim’s charitable practice. From those who work in the warehouses organizing and coordinating food donations, to the assistants who hand-deliver baskets and meals to individuals each holiday. I was happy to help in the warehouse, and was also lucky enough to also meet some of the recipients of the food packages. Their gratitude strengthened my dedication to working with Maot Chitim.
During each holiday approximately 4,500 individual boxes are given along with bulk shipments to up to 25 larger organizations. In total, each holiday comfort, food, and tradition is brought close to 12,000 people who would otherwise go hungry or have no way to celebrate the warmth of holidays.
My time with Moat Chitim was unforgettable, and I have loved working with them well beyond my Bat Mitzvah.