New York soup kitchen opens for seders
NEW YORK — It’s not easy making Passover seder. There’s the cleaning, the cooking, the logistical and emotional challenges of hosting guests. Then there’s the cost. For some, the challenges are insurmountable.
That’s why Masbia – a soup kitchen in Borough Park, Brooklyn, meant to resemble a restaurant experience – decided this year that for the first time it will open on Passover to host the seders. This despite the challenges of making the facility kosher for Passover and finding volunteers willing to give up the holiday with their own families to help staff seders for the needy. The idea is to give guests not just a warm seder meal but a warm embrace.
“We do not cut corners. We want our guests to feel welcomed by feeding them in a dignified manner, like they are guests at a restaurant,” said Masbia co-founder Alexander Rapaport. “Everybody has a real kiddush cup, a matzah cover, etc. We have handmade shmura matzah, regular matzah – we try to accommodate all kinds of customs.”
A hazzan, Levi Kranz, was hired to lead the seder.
“I could have been in any hotel as a professional cantor,” Kranz said. “But I chose to be here because this is a unique opportunity to hover over and embrace the concept ‘All who are hungry let them come and eat,’” he said, quoting a famous passage from the Haggadah.
“This is the main idea of Passover,” Hazzan Kranz said. “To be in a place that is a soup kitchen and totally focused on that 24/7 — that’s a very special thing and a new, most beautiful experience.”
More than 50 people have signed up for the seder, and more are expected. The seder guests will include a single working mother going through a bitter divorce and is under severe financial strain and a Jewish war veteran whose wife recently died.
Hosting the seders is just a small part of the help Masbia is extending to New York’s poor this Passover. In recent weeks, the organization has distributed thousands of pounds of food for the holiday – something it does every Passover.
Though Masbia is kosher and its three branches are in heavily Jewish neighborhoods, the soup kitchens serve any and all comers.