Remembering the Hungry On Holidays, Year Round
By HEIDI PRESS
Did you know that by celebrating Thanksgiving this year, your
family can help feed the hungry? That by donating three percent of
the cost of what you paid for your Thanksgiving goodies, you could
help feed children for whom hunger is a daily fact of life? You can, if
you become a Mazon partner.
What is Mazon? It is a Jewish communal project, the brainchild of
Moment magazine editor Leonard Fein, designed to respond to
hunger in America — not only for Jews, but beyond the Jewish
community as well. Based in Los Angeles, the grant-making
organization is headed by Irving Cramer, executive director since its
founding in 1985, who was previously a consultant to non-profit
national and community programs.
Rather than conducting can drives or fund drives, Mazon seeks to
raise funds based on the generosity of persons who are not needy.
Instead of going to corporations for grants and conducting phone-a-
thons and other traditional fund-raising activities, Mazon seeks to work
through the synagogues and their congregations. "We have two
mandates — to raise funds and grant them and the second is, as we
go along, to educate, particularly our youngsters and also our adult
Jewish population to the problems of social justice, hunger in
particular," Cramer said.
According to Cramer, who was in Detroit to educate others about
Mazon and to learn about institutions here which deal with hunger,
about one billion people on earth per day go hungry, 20 million in the
U.S. and 40,000 children in the world age 5 or less. A national study
on hunger, done by the Physician Task Force on Hunger in America,
concluded that despite 58 months of steady economic expansion,
millions of Americans still do not get enough to eat. The study
specifically cited infants, the elderly and former blue-collar factory
workers now in the service sector.
What Mazon is trying to do, is bridge the gap between the haves
and the have nots. "We deal with building a bridge based on Jewish
tradition, " he said, "the bridge being between abundance
(Thanksgiving, while not a Jewish holiday, is a holiday of abundance)
and the deprivation suffered by a billion people on earth who are
hungry. Given that many in the Jewish community are blessed with
abundance of their celebrations, what could be more appropriate than
matching those two — abundance with deprivation, balancing out in a
decent way." -
How that bridge is made is by making grants to food banks and
other organizations who are devoted to feeding the hungry. Twice a
year, in January and June, grants are awarded to such agencies. In
Our grants are outreach to the whole of the
community. The tragic qualification has to be
that people are hungry, destitute and in trouble.
They don't have to be of a particular political
party, color, race or religion.
the first 20 months of the two-year-old agency, more than $260,000
was given to 44 grantees. In its fiscal year just ended, Mazon has
"We know how much is spent
given out more than $550,000.
within reason in celebration of simchas. If we were to take the more
conservative figure, estimate and apply our three percent idea to it
and then cut it back dramatically in terms of our percentage of
success rate and add to it Yom Kippur and Pesach and tributes and
so on we are able to calculate that we should raise $4-5 million."
Although Jews are the primary beneficiaries of the Mazon grants,
they are not the only recipients, Cramer emphasized. "Our grants are
made without discrimination. We say and we act on and our grants
reflect a particular sensitivity toward the Jewish poor, but by no
means exclusively. Our grants are outreach to the whole of the
community. The tragic qualification has to be that people are hungry,
destitute and in trouble. They don't have to be of a particular political
party, color, race or religion. We're very solid about that fact. That's
something we don't negotiate."
To demonstrate the community spirit of Mazon, grantees are not
given a check directly . Rather, a representative from the Jewish
community arranges for a public presentation.
There are many projects that synagogues and private individuals
Continued on Page L-7
Thanksgiving Day Prayer
God, Our Father,
Thou hast given us many gifts —
the harvest of the fields, bounties of
nature, clothes and shelter. It is
good to give thanks to Thee and to
acknowledge Thy blessings.
Only thus can we savor them to
the full. For if we are unaware
of Thy bounties, we will waste
the opportunities they afford us
for living the good life.
We thank Thee for our land — its
grandeur and its beauty. Help us to
preserve it from man-made
corruption and harm.
Strengthen us so that we
maintain and protect the great
resources which Thou hast
granted us — mighty rivers and
cool streams, fields of grain and
skies of blue.
We thank Thee for the inspiration of
our country's history, for the
heritage of freedom, justice and
opportunity which we are endowed.
Help us to enlarge this legacy
and to strengthen the national
institutions that embody
Most of all, we praise Thee for the
gift of our brother man, of every
race, of every creed, of every
Our Father, help us to recognize
that Your other children, whom
we sometimes call stranger or
even enemy, are not a threat
but a blessing. They are not
competitors, but completors of
We thank Thee for diversity in
experience and variety in
As we share a common life, we
are liberated from
As we open our hearts to those who
are not like ourselves, we see Thine
image reflected in the uniqueness of
every human spirit.
Father, we thank Thee for Thine
other children, and for the
whole family of man. Dear God,
help us to live in love and
understanding, in forebearance
and acceptance. Open our eyes
to each other, remove our fear,
and grant us the ability to trust.
Enlighten us as we turn to Thee,
Father of all, for by Thy Creation,
we belong to each other.
We are grateful for the dream
that all people can share life in
a world of peace, a dream that
is our faith and our hope.
The meal should begin with the
Motzi and end with Grace After
THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS