Passover is a time to celebrate liberation from slavery and recognize the good fortune many of us in Toronto have. As we gather around the table, our family and friends celebrate the holiday with story-telling, ancient rituals, and—last but not least—the Seder meal, usually with many courses. However, while our families and guests may have plenty of food in our bellies, too many of our neighbors suffer from food insecurity.
This year, as we enjoy the Seder meal to celebrate freedom from oppression, we can take this opportunity to focus on freeing people from food insecurity. As a company, we at Elite Roofing in Toronto have been actively supporting local organizations whose mission is to end hunger in our community and beyond.
From Slavery to Freedom
The story portion of the Passover Seder begins with the issue of hunger, not just for freedom but for food itself. The very first lines we recite from the Haggadah at our Seder meal, known as Hei Lachma Anya, state, “This [matzah] is the bread of oppression our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come in and eat.”
Matzah–also called “poor man’s bread” in the Haggadah–is a central symbol at our seder, reflecting the importance of feeding our guests in need. As for oppression, Abraham Ibn Ezra, a 12th century Jewish philosopher and scholar, notes that matzah was standard fare to prisoners because it is slower to digest than regular bread.
In an interesting commentary, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks points out that matzah is both the bread of affliction and the food the Israelites eat as they become free, continuing that, “What transforms the bread of oppression into the bread of freedom is the willingness to share it with others.”
Feeding the Hungry is a Passover Priority
How do we know that the message of Hei Lachma Anya is so critical? The first sign is its placement as the first passage in the Haggadah story. The second is that the authors wrote it in Aramaic, the everyday language of the Jews at that time. The rest of the text is in Hebrew, the language used for scholarship and prayer. Rabbi Sack’s commentary notes that, “To make it a genuine invitation, it is important that it is stated in a language that is understood.” In other words, don’t just read through this part, really take in the message.
In reality, people who experience daily hunger are unlikely to expect an invitation to our Seder table. So, as we prepare for Passover, we abide by the age-old Jewish tradition of contributing to special Passover funds that ensure those in need have food, matzah, wine, fresh clothing, and all they require to enjoy the holiday. These funds are called ma’ot chitim (the wheat fund) or kimcha d’pischa (Passover flour).
At Elite, we don’t just understand the message. We act on it.
Elite Roofing in Action
The Elite Roofing family, including our employees, partner with food banks and soup kitchens throughout the year in Toronto and beyond. Our efforts have included:
- Our team toured the new Second Harvest facilities and we have been donors to them for several years. This organization redistributes millions of pounds of surplus food to over 6,400 non-profit programs that feed millions of Canadians, providing over 110,000 meals daily to families in need. We plan to volunteer at this worthy organization in the near future. Donate to Second Harvest
- The Elite team has donated to Vaughan Food Bank, a volunteer-run organization that since 1995 has helped families in the Vaughan Area, working as an independent food bank and a logistics center for other food banks in the region. Donate to Vaughan Food Bank
- Elite has participated with the Chasdei Kaduri Jewish Holiday Food Bank, supporting their efforts to organize weekly deliveries for those who cannot make it out to food banks by picking up donations, packing weekly bags for deliveries, and organizing volunteer teams to deliver food parcels. Donate to Chasdei Kaduri
- During a recent trip to Israel, Howard and Claire Glowinsky took time out to volunteer as part of Colel Chabad’s partnership with Pantry Packers, a food rescue and redistribution organization in Talpiot, Israel. Donate to Colel Chabad
A Time to Feed the Hungry
With over three million Canadians living below the poverty line, providing food is crucial to helping Canadian families survive. The lessons of Hei Lachma Anya don’t need to be limited to a particular time of year or religious group. We hope you join Elite Roofing to bring nutrition to others—in Toronto, elsewhere in Canada, or beyond. When it’s time to build, repair, or replace your roof, hire Elite Roofing, a family-owned company that cares about the community.