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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Mazon, a 30-year-old nonprofit organization known for its advocacy efforts in the fight against hunger in America and Israel, has designed an interactive exhibit as a community engagement initiative. Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky, Rabbi of Congregation Beth Sholom in Teaneck, and lay leader for Mazon, has arranged for Mazon’s “This Is Hunger” mobile exhibit to stop in Teaneck on its journey across the country. The mobile exhibit will be stationed at Temple Emeth April 3-5 and will offer visitors a look into the astonishing number of people struggling with hunger across America.

The exhibit offers numerous interviews, testimonies and photographs in a way that creates an immersive experience for guests. “With this initiative, we’re humanizing food insecurity in a way that no anti-hunger organization has done before,” explained Abby Leibman, Mazon’s president and CEO.

The inspiration for the exhibit came as a reaction to comments from various donors and partners who revealed that they aren’t exposed to real hunger experiences in a regular basis. This prompted a photographer to go across the country taking very real photographs and collecting testimonies that later became “Faces of Hunger,” a high-impact exhibit that reveals the magnitude of the problem. The objective of “This is Hunger” is primarily educational, meant to expose people to the levels of hunger in the United States and in our community. Unlike food pantries, which serve the community’s needs on a daily basis, Mazon’s goal is to set people up with a long-term solution to hunger.

“As a pulpit rabbi and a board member of Mazon, I feel intimately connected to the issue of hunger in our community. How can people feel a sense of dignity, of self worth, of being made in God’s image, let alone have the strength and perseverance to succeed in life if they do not know where their next meal will come from? Please come and see ‘This Is Hunger’ because each human life is important, because as a community we care about each other, and we want everyone to be happy, healthy and successful. You cannot accomplish any of those goals without having enough food to eat,” said Rabbi Pitkowsky.

In addition to exhibit tours, Rabbi Nathaniel Helfgot of Congregation Netivot Shalom will conduct a class on how Jewish tradition helps us understand the hunger issue. The class will be held on Monday evening, April 3, 8-8:30 p.m. The exhibit is recommended for middle school students and up, and is free of charge. Visitors are encouraged to sign up online at http://thisishunger.org/the-tour/.

By Andrea Nissel