The guest of honor and speaker for the evening was Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Major Jewish Organizations and major supporter of The Mortimer Zuckerman and Abigail Zuckerman Israel Nutrition Center. World-renowned Cantor Avi Albrecht, tenor Benjamin Warschawski and pianist Bruce Stasyna performed a magnificent selection of classical and Jewish music during the evening.
Guests from the Palm Beach community who attended the invitation-only affair learned that the 100,000 square-foot facility which is expected to open during the fall of 2011 will provide a free restaurant to those in need, vocational training programs for the unemployed, a Power of Giving Warehouse offering donated clothing, an after-school youth center for children at risk and 200 new jobs for local residents.
“Meir Panim is helping to restore dignity to Israelis who have been stripped of their pride due to the hardships of poverty,” said Michael Fromm, Chairman of American Friends of Meir Panim. “This event was held to inform Jewish philanthropic leaders of the Palm Beach community about the severe poverty crisis in Israel. Many of the attendees had heard of Meir Panim’s work, but were unclear as to the magnitude of food insecurity in Israel and the real problem it is causing. As Jews, it is our obligation to relieve the burden for our less fortunate brothers and sisters in Israel and support them however we can.”
According to the November 2010 Israel National Insurance Institute Poverty Report, over 1.7 million Israelis suffer from hunger and two out of every five children are living below the poverty line. Additionally, 15,000 families joined the circle of poverty in 2009, which affected more than 120,000 people living in Israel. A common factor resulting in poverty among Israeli families is that main earners have either lost their source of income or their work conditions deteriorated as a result of the global economic crisis. According to experts, the only way to reduce the poverty rate in Israel is by raising minimum wage, providing additional grants for poor children and helping to support low income families.
As a result of the recent Palm Beach event, a new community of Jews has not only learned about Meir Panim’s important work, but wants to really make a difference through action. Pledges are being made and donations are coming in. Thank you again to Cobey and Bob Rapaport for hosting this beautiful affair, to Malcolm Hoenlein for inspiring us with his deep commitment to our mission and to Cantor Avi Albrecht for entertaining us with his gifted voice.
For photos of the Meir Panim event on March 8th in Palm Beach.