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Masbia runs three restaurants in Boro Park, Flatbush, and Rego Park, Queens. In these restaurants, the needy are served with respect. Instead of waiting in line for food, they sit at tables and are served by volunteers. Most tables are encircled with curtains to provide some privacy for the individuals or families.
Until recently, the Masbia restaurant in Williamsburg was up and running. But due to a shortage in funds and lack of demand — even from those who had nothing to eat — the restaurant closed its doors.
“A well-to-do Jew in Williamsburg does not frequent restaurants. It is not a part of their culture,” Rapaport explained. “Moreover, they would not go to a restaurant known to serve the poor.”
William Rapfogel, Chief Executive Officer of the Met Council, said they will try to continue servicing the poor in Williamsburg. “Our volunteers bring non-perishable foods right to their doors.”
Masbia’s budget reaches 1.8 million a year, of which a mere 5% is covered by government funding; the rest must be raised from private sources. Since this is no small feat in this recession, Masbia strives to make it possible. This past Sunday, the organization attended two fundraising events: A breakfast benefit for Masbia was hosted in Kew gardens, Queens by a couple, Aron and Tzipoa Loeb; and in the afternoon Rapaport served as a referee at the Long Island Kosher Barbeque Contest, where part of the profit benefited five charity organizations in Long Island who work to combat hunger.
“Masbia’s work has been miraculous, but we would like to help them be even more miraculous,” Rapfogel said. “Instead of one meal, we would like to expand it to two meals a day. We just have to find the funding.”