Demand for United Synagogue chesed support up 10% this Pesach

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Demand for United Synagogue chesed support up 10% this Pesach

For the first time, the number of families needing welfare parcels and food vouchers reaches more than 800

Collecting Pesach packages for Jewish families, United Synagogue Chesed, 2023
Collecting Pesach packages for Jewish families, United Synagogue Chesed, 2023

Requests from families for support this Pesach has risen by 10 percent in light of the cost-of-living crisis.

For the first time the number of families asking for support from the United Synagogue (US) has surpassed 800. Last year its chesed (welfare) department helped 730 families with Pesach parcels and food vouchers.

This year 807 families have asked for support.

The US’s help provides large bags of Pesach food for families of three or more people and smaller bags for couples or those on their own. The food parcels contain Pesach essentials such as matzah and grape juice, staples like cheese and fish, and additional items like picked cucumbers, jam, mayonnaise, fruit juice, butter, stock cubes and tinned tomatoes. Some biscuits and a bar of chocolate are provided too as treats. For people who are more mobile and enjoy being able to buy their own food, shopping vouchers for Tesco and Kosher Outlet are provided at £60 per household.

Collecting Pesach food for Jewish families, March 2023. United Synagogue Chesed

The United Synagogue will also cover the costs of attending a communal seder in a US shul as an additional service for members in extreme need. It works through a network of local community care coordinators who ensure tailored support is given to each household, with no names or identities passed on to the charity to ensure anonymity is protected.

The US held an online fundraiser last week to fund the Pesach parcels, and to enable the charity to provide critical support to thousands of its members and those in the wider community throughout the year.

The United Synagogue provides weekly food parcels for those in need and coordinates Jewish Hospital visiting in Greater London and the south east so that Jewish patients receive a visitor should they wish from more than 30 Jewish hospital chaplains.

Refugees from Ukraine have received support via drop-in centres run by a number of US communities.

£525,000 was raised from 2,730 donors which will ensure thousands of people in need can be supported this year. The matzah for the food parcels is donated by Rakusen’s.

Seder plate

Michelle Minsky, US head of chesed, said: “The cost-of-living crisis shows no sign of abating and with food costs still spiralling, more families than ever have asked for the United Synagogue’s support this year. Fortunately, the generosity of our community means that we have been able to raise additional funds to meet the growing need but this is not something we can take for granted. I’d also like to thank our network of extraordinary care coordinators and local volunteers without whom we simply wouldn’t be able to deliver the level of support that’s needed. We are glad we can meet the increasing demand and thank everyone who donated to our appeal – your generosity means so much for the thousands of people we support throughout the year.”

Sarah (not her real name) said: “Thank you, United Synagogue, for your support of meals and essentials. You truly make the difference for us and we are extremely grateful. Taking into account that we are on very low incomes and the cost of living is increasing, which makes the matter worse, your project helps us to carry on. I don’t know how we could survive without it. Many thanks again.”

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