Meir Panim Update
Iranian Jewish Community Gathers to Support Meir Panim
January 1, 1970

From beginning to end, every detail was thought of. As guests drove up to the door, they were met with valet parking for their convenience. Each guest was personally greeted by a member of the Ohebshalom family. And this attention to detail was seen throughout the evening, from the moment the guests arrived, through their last bite of dessert, to being handed back into their cars by the courteous valets.

The atmosphere was warm and inviting, and a new community was introduced to the work of Meir Panim. “I could not have felt more welcome,” said David Roth, President of American Friends of Meir Panim.

Guests mingled, meeting old friends and making new ones. Once everyone had a chance to sample the extensive buffet, Sandy Ohebshalom introduced Michael Fromm, Chairman of American Friends of Meir Panim.

“It is astounding to think that one-third of today’s generation of young Israelis – simply due to the lack of proper nutrition – is at risk of failing to continue the great legacy of academic achievement that has established Israel as a world leader in virtually every professional field – science, medicine, technology engineering,” said Mr. Fromm. “Tonight you will hear disturbing statistics that reveal just how bad things are for a surprising number of Israelis. But you will also hear about the remarkable work Meir Panim is doing to provide relief.”

Mr. Fromm went on to tell of how he first became involved with the organization. “Nearly ten years ago, I was brought by a friend to see one of Meir Panim’s free restaurants. Of course, I was immediately put to work as a waiter, serving hot lunches. As I left, I asked the manager why they didn’t require some form of verification from the patrons to show they were in fact on public assistance. I’ll never forget his response. He said ‘I’d rather let one undeserving person eat a free meal than ask 100 others to prove they’re poor.’ I immediately fell in love with the organization.”

A short video presentation unmistakably illustrated the extent of poverty in Israel, as well as Meir Panim’s response.

Guests from the Iranian Jewish community were shocked at the statistics. Most had no idea of the magnitude of the situation.

According to the November 2011 Poverty Report from the Israel National Insurance Institute, over 1.7 million people in Israel live below the poverty line, including 837,300 children!

David Birnbaum, Executive Director of American Friends of Meir Panim, emphasized, “that means one out of every three children doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from.”

Mr. Birnbaum related his own personal experience. “I was delivering some food cards before Pesach. I met a family – a mother, father, grandmother, young daughter, and a 4-year old boy who ran to sit in my lap. I have a 4-year old son, and like everyone in this room I would do anything to provide him with security and nourishment. I looked into the father’s eyes and I could feel his pain. He could not provide for his family as he wished he could. As I handed him the food card, he said that if was not for Meir Panim, he would not be able to feed his family.”

This is what Meir Panim is about. Since 2000, Meir Panim has been providing immediate and long-term relief to the impoverished population of Israel, while preserving their dignity.

After the moving presentation, guests sat down to a full dinner. Conversation buzzed, with many of the guests asking for more information on the situation in Israel, and wanting to help.

After a lavish dessert buffet, the evening drew to a close, with many reluctant to leave.

As a result of the event, a new community has not only learned about Meir Panim’s important work, but wants to make a difference. Pledges are being made and donations are coming in.

A special thank you to Sandy Ohebshalom for helping to organize this spectacular event.

And thank you to the Ohebshalom family for hosting this beautiful affair.

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