Jewish Journal


June 17, 2010

Ending Hunger as a United Community



Jewish Leader & Gay Activist Ron Galperin (right) joins volunteers at the West Hollywood Farmer's Market gleaning event on June 13th, 2010 as part of the Jewish Federation's 613 Community Challenge

As a freelance filmmaker, photographer, and producer, I never know where my next gig is going to come from. I was pleasantly surprised and very grateful when I was recently hired by the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles for a temporary position as the producer of what they referred to as “an anti-hunger event.” I walked into the position having a pretty limited knowledge of hunger issues in Los Angeles, but my professional experience and Virgo-style organizational skills ended up being a great match for such an incredible project.

The Jewish Federation has been working for sometime in Los Angeles to combat the hunger epidemic that plagues our city. In Los Angeles, 1 in 4 children in a household is struggling with hunger. Many have no access to fresh produce and are surrounded by an abundance of fast food. All of this I learned while on the job… I was completely oblivious before. How did I not know that it was such a rampant problem in my very own proverbial back yard?

What started as an unformed idea became 19 different events happening simultaneously on one day, June 13, all around Los Angeles. The Jewish Federation chose the date (6/13) because there are 613 mitzvot or commandments in the Torah. The goal was to have 613 individual acts to end hunger be completed as a community on June 13th. They dubbed this, the “613 Community Challenge.”

After weeks of planning, I am incredibly proud of the team that I worked with. This past Sunday:

- We fed battered and bruised women and children at the Downtown Women’s Center.
- We gleaned produce from 5 farmer’s markets, resulting in a donation of over 2000 pounds of fresh produce to 4 needy charities serving the homeless.
- We painted murals at Tomchei Shabbos, a facility used to provide services to vulnerable Orthodox Jews.
- We planted gardens in East LA and the Florence/Firestone Community of South Central.
- We signed postcards to Senators Boxer & Feinstein encouraging them to renew the Child Nutrition Act

I was particularly proud of the fact that many of the Federation’s LGBT employees were active in creating and producing these events. One of the events, called Food on Foot, actually took place at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. This fantastic integration of community is exactly the vision that so many of us within the LGBTQ Jewish Community have. We want to be part of the greater Jewish Community in a meaningful way. What a joy to stand side by side as a community to help end hunger in Los Angeles.

Here’s a video about the day, specifically highlighting the event that took place at the LA Gay & Lesbian Center!


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