May 3, 2012
The Bnai Israel Matzoh Fund: Volunteers mobilize to feed heroic families
As most people turn their attention to Lag Baomer and Shavuot, maybe thinking of Pesach only to recall it with some matzoh eaten on Pesach Sheni, Alan Hirsch, President of the Bnai Israel Matzoh Fund, is still collecting funds to close the financial gap remaining from this past Pesach.
A completely voluntary organization, the Matzoh Fund provides over-the-top Maot Chittim, food and funds for Pesach for those struggling financially in Yehuda, and Shomron. Mounting a fundraising effort starting from Rosh Chodesh Adar spearheaded by Alan Hirsch, he and friends and family collect money primarily in Brooklyn, Teaneck-Bergenfield, and Great Neck. “We’re weak in the Five Towns,” said Hirsch. This year they supplied over 1500 families with an initial budget of $180,000 that went to $200,000. They provide meat, chicken, fruits and vegetables, shmurah matzo, wine, grape juice, lollipops for the children, and either a voucher for the local supermarket or a personal check with the family’s name on it, for $1000, to each needy family.
Hirsch started this about 12 years ago “on a small level,” he recalled, initially assisting ten families in Maaleh Amos, in the Gush Etzion area of Yehuda, and 12 families in Chevron. “The following year there were twice as many and it grew to Gush Etzion. The first year or two it was my money, then I was going to people to ask. It’s a very quiet thing. Individual people know, quietly families know about the Matzoh Fund organization. Word spread over there. We never say no to anybody; whoever feels that they need we give them. We ask know how many families and they give a projection. If more come we give and we need that much more money.”
Hirsch “makes the orders one or two months before Pesach,” said his son, Ari Hirsch. “So it’s based on the previous years how much to order.” He noted that the food is bought according to need and regardless of expense but the suppliers work with Alan Hirsch. “All the suppliers give excellent prices,” explained Alan Hirsch, “well below wholesale. They want a part in the mitzvah.” Each family gets a check or a voucher because “in certain areas we work with the grocery stores there so we help them as well.”