Bags of generosity as Israel supporters help the homeless


More than a thousand people across the country donated food to the homeless in a bid to spread some Chanucah cheer while beating the Israel boycott this weekend.

Shoppers who took part in IsrAction Day on Sunday by donating Israeli food can expect their generosity to feed hundreds over the festive period, according to organisers.

The initiative was the brainchild of grassroots groups Sussex Friends of Israel (SFI), in Brighton, and the Manchester-based North West Friends of Israel (NWFoI), and has been backed by the JC.

SFI executive member Fiona Sharpe said the support had been overwhelming. “It exceeded all our wildest expectations and we have been stunned by the generosity shown across the country,” she said.

“In Brighton, we are such a small community and I can’t believe the piles of food we actually accumulated. People were working late into the night to sort it into boxes and it has been sent to three local shelters and one soup kitchen.

“Non-Jews got involved, too, buying soups, pastas, couscous, you name it. We’ve also had lots of nice luxury donations, including cakes and biscuits, which over the Christmas period is great because everyone deserves a treat. It is stuff the shelters wouldn’t normally be able to buy.”

In Manchester, more than 600 people turned out to donate food that was distributed across three Jewish and non-Jewish homeless charities.

Organiser Raphi Bloom, co-chair of NWFoI, said: “We expect to be feeding hundreds of people as a result of the donations.”

Mr Bloom hit back at those who had criticised the effort by suggesting Israeli products would be useless to the homeless. He said: “People who were childish enough to suggest all we would be donating were hummus and Bamba can eat their words. We were inundated with the most sensible long-lasting products that are going support and feed large numbers of people.

Father Ian Tomlinson of the Central Manchester Food Bank, expressed his gratitude to people who had given donation.

“We feed 75 people per week so the food donated by IsrAction will go a long way to helping this year.”

Liverpool’s Rabbi Shmuley Brown lit the menorah along with Rabbi Benjy Rickman, head of Jewish studies at the King David High School, at the Manchester collection.

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