As we celebrate the Passover Seder, we sing, Dayenu, perhaps the most recognized of Passover songs. We sing “It would have been enough” to take us of Egypt, and “it would have been enough” to split the sea, and “it would have been enough” to give us the Torah and Shabbat. But as we sit and feast, we must recognize that there are those in our community who will go to sleep enslaved to the empty feeling in their bellies for lack of food. There are those in our community who are trapped in food deserts without access to fresh produce. There are those whose lives are broken because of the broken food system.
In the fall of 2008, we re-launched the food bank at my synagogue, Valley Beth Shalom. The economy had started to crash, and the synagogue responded, in part, by reinvesting in this project to help San Fernando Valley residents who needed a hand. Little did I know that within a few weeks, our little food bank would grow to reach hundreds of families a month–including members of my own community. During the Great Recession and subsequent (albeit slow) recovery, I spoke with congregants who told me their stories: Before the recession, they were successful in business and had “done everything right,” but the bank later took their home. They needed a little extra food each month to bridge the gap between their paycheck and bills.