NY1: Volunteers at UWS Synagogue Prepare 1,000 Pounds of Veggies for Purim Meals for Masbia Soup Kitchen Network

By Tara Lynn Wagner
Sunday, February 26, 2017 at 06:32 PM EST

Dozens of volunteers at an Upper West Side synagogue spent the day slicing and dicing for a good cause. Our Tara Lynn Wagner was there and has the story.

Give 9-year-old Sali a sweet potato and a peeler, and she really gets cooking.

"I'm peeling," she said. "I'm already on my sixth one."

She's one of roughly 150 volunteers who gathered at the West Side Institutional Synagogue Sunday to wash, peel, and chop a half a ton of veggies.

The produce is being prepped for the Masbia Soup Kitchen Network which will use the thousand pounds of fresh cut food to prepare 2,500 hot dinners this week. 

"The chef will make soup and side dishes for all the dinners from what's going to be prepped here today," said Alexander Rapaport, Executive Director of Masbia Soup Kitchen Network.

Masbia operates three soup kitchens in the city — two in Brooklyn and one in Queens.  Between those locations and their other programs, they serve more than two million meals a year.

Executive Director Alexander Rapaport says the non-profit runs the only Kosher soup kitchen in the city but their doors are open to all.

"The food is very nutritious," Rapaport said. "It is fresh, made out of fresh vegetables. People can enjoy and have sometimes the only meal of the day."

Anyone 7 and older was handed a peeler but younger helpers pitched in as well, creating cards and crafts for Purim that will be distributed with the food.

"Purim is a time when the Jewish tradition really focuses on charity," Rabbi Daniel Sherman of the West Side Institutional Synagogue. "The idea of giving gifts to others, making sure that other people who may be less fortunate are able to enjoy what others can enjoy."

For parents, this day of service was a chance to help others and give their children a taste of compassion at the same time.

"It's a great opportunity to understand about people that are not as fortunate as them," said volunteer Erika Olshin.

 "I wanted them to also take part in things that have to do with compassion and kindness and helping people out," volunteer Eddie Kelen. 

"I feel good," said 9-year-old Sali. "I feel like I'm being a little helpful."

"I feel very good," said 13-year-old Zachary. "I feel like I'm doing a good thing."

Masbia has more than 1,000 volunteer hours available every week. To find out more, visit masbia.org.

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