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Sandy victims receive JCC Passover meals

Genya Fidlyand, 80, receives kosher food at the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula. Photo by Christina Santucci
TimesLedger Newspapers

About 200 people who struggle to make ends meet in the Rockaways — some of them still reeling from Hurricane Sandy — received Passover meals from the Jewish Community Council of the Rockaway Peninsula Monday.

“It’s important to them,” said Ilene Marcus, chief of staff of the Met Council on Jewish Poverty, the umbrella organization of the JCCRP. “It’s really a lifeline. Especially for people who are kosher.”

The Passover meal giveaway is an annual event held by the Met Council, which uses the occasion to provide special kosher foods that are not normally included in its other food distributions. People receiving boxes of food are treated to items such as gefilte fish, eggs and kosher chicken.

Marcus said people need the help particularly now after the storm. Passover begins March 25.

“It has become more and more meaningful since Sandy,” she said.

This year, in addition to the special kosher food, the Met Council included a Passover dish in its giveaway because many people may have lost their Seder plates in Hurricane Sandy, Marcus said.

“It’s a very meaningful gift at this time,” she said.

The Met Council is one of the few city organizations that provides kosher meals for people in need. It is the largest distributor of food from City Harvest and the city Food Bank and also raises money to buy its own food for distribution.

“We serve anybody, but if you’re kosher, you can’t get these items at a different food bank. They just won’t have them,” Marcus said. “So it’s really important that we fill that role in the community. Help them celebrate the holiday the way they should.”

The council sends food to local groups like the JCCRP, at 1525 Central Ave., which sometimes supplements the donations with food of its own.

Genya Fidlyand, a Russian woman who spoke through a translator, came to the giveaway to receive chicken, eggs, matzo, carrots, potatoes, onions and other items. She said she was going to use the food to make a Passover meal for herself and her husband, who she said was in a wheelchair.

“Of course, it helps,” she said.

Another lifelong Rockaway resident who came to pick up food, Rose Borenstein, has also been struggling. Her husband recently died and she has had difficulty taking over the household responsibilities he used to handle, such as doing the taxes.

“I’ve been drowning,” she said. “I had no one to help me.”

She has been coming out to JCCRP recently to take advantage of services the organization offers such as help in filling out paperwork and other tasks her husband would have done. She heard of the Passover giveaway and came out for help.

“It’s very wonderful,” she said.

Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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