Global Seder to Fight Hunger helps Jews in need celebrate Passover

Jews in Toronto, Israel, former Soviet Union and Cuba need our help

As we celebrate Passover by sharing the holiday meal at our respective Seder tables along with friends and loved ones, the thought that other Jews in Toronto – and around the world – will not have enough to eat during the holiday, and year-round for that matter, is unfathomable.

But the truth is, in Toronto alone over 20,000 Jews live at, or below the poverty line, making their ability to put food on the table a challenge. In Israel and the Former Soviet Union (FSU), there are countless Jews in need who cannot feed themselves or their families adequately, while in Cuba, the absence of kosher for Passover foods make it a struggle to celebrate the holiday and their Jewish lives with joy and dignity.

United Jewish Appeal’s Global Seder to Fight Hunger has been created to assist those in our community, Cuba, the FSU and Israel who are the most vulnerable during the holiday season and beyond. Funds raised through this vital initiative will be allocated to purchasing the food and other staples needed to celebrate Passover.

Like any child his age, Desta, a ten year-old Ethiopian-Israeli boy living in Bat Yam, dreams about his future.  But Desta also worries about the present; often there is not enough food in his home to feed his family and the only hot meal he receives is during lunchtime at school.

“It’s hard for me concentrate sometimes because I’m hungry,” Desta explains. “I like to take bread home from my lunch at school so I know I will have something to eat for dinner.”

Sarah Afansieva, a 79 year-old Holocaust survivor living in Kishinev, Moldova, one of the FSU’s poorest countries is also struggling. She is unable to sustain herself and relies on food from the Joint Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC), a partner agency of UJA Federation, in order to maintain her health and dignity. 

“I try not to worry, but it is hard,” says Sarah. “I know I can count on the Jewish community to help, and that eases my anxieties.” 

There are 1,500 Jews still living in Cuba, working hard to maintain their Jewish identity in a country that for years prohibited individuals from doing just that. Without access to kosher food, particularly on Passover, many feel alienated and alone during the holiday.

“We always received the kosher for Passover food packages from Canada,” Hella Eskenazi remembers. “Because of this one small connection to my Jewish roots I wanted to indentify even more with my Jewish background and I began a journey which brought me to where I am now.”

To donate to UJA’s Global Seder to Fight Hunger visit


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