Meir Panim


After writing about justice and tzedakah, I thought I would write a short post about one of the nonprofit organizations I support.

Meir Panim is an Israeli network of relief centers. It was founded by David (Dudi) Zilberschlag, a Petach Tikvah–born haredi man, whose son Meir died of a rare metabolic disorder called Glycogen Storage Disease two months after his bar mitzvah. The disease prevented Meir from consuming and digesting food normally.

However the idea for Meir Panim came to Zilberschlag several years before Meir passed away. It all started after Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination on November 4, 1995. At that time, Zilberschlag became involved in post-assassination talks between people from al walks of life.

“During the talks, I realized that talking was good, but limited. We needed to do something active together—a mitzvah—something that would bridge the gaps between us … We can learn to live together, and influence people to do the same. We can create a more cohesive, tolerant, loving society in Israel.”

Today Meir Panim has expanded and has 15 soup kitchens spread throughout Israel as well as a number of other projects. Here is a selection of what exists:
Meals for Children delivers hot, nourishing lunches to 10,000 needy youngsters in kindergarten and elementary schools.
Meals on Wheels delivers packed meals to the handicapped, elderly, and Holocaust survivors.
Occupational Rehabilitation hires emotionally challenged individuals capable of preparing and packaging food for the soup kitchens, meals-on-wheels, and school lunches.
Training for Battered Women helps abused women regain critically needed independence.
Youth Clubs are set up to keep needy children mainstreamed and provide them with a supportive environment.
Computers from the Heart collects used computers and teaches dropout and at-risk teens to repair them. The refurbished computers are then distributed to children in needy families and young victims of terror attacks.

I heard about Meir Panim for the first time on a TV program and a lot things appealed to me about this organization.

I liked the fact that at the soup kitchen religious as well as non-religious young and older folks work together. I also admired the emphasis that was put on dignity when the people were served: the staff made sure the place looked like a restaurant rather than a soup kitchen so they sit at a table and are served several dishes.

Similarly the have developed a food card to prevent the shame often associated with having to stand in waiting lines; thus low-income working families get a magnetic cards for food products at supermarket chains.

Last, but not least, they have not forgotten the Holocaust survivors who can hardly make ends meet.

What organizations do you support?

9 thoughts on “Meir Panim

  1. I have been sending (small, but heartfelt) donations to Meir Panim for years. They do incredible work. On their website, they sell beautiful Rosh Hashanah cards and other cards to raise money. I bought the placecards for my son’s Bar Mitzvah party from them, and they were lovely.

  2. I haven’t heard of Meir Panim. I like their logo.

    I am a big fan of AMIT, and the schools they run in Israel. My husband has been giving to about three or four families in Jerusalem since before I married him through an organization. He gives to so many different charities I can’t keep track. We’ve given to Yad Sarah, Yad Eliezer, and Ethiopian Jewry (we’ve gotten these neat embroidered pillow cases from that one).

  3. We went to volunteer at Meir Panim’s soup kitchen this summer. We also volunteered by helping them package school supplies for needy children. The kids had a great time and felt so good about this. It is a great organization and if you guys every come (back) to Israel, I can give you the number to call to set up a volunteer time.

    We are partial to Chai Lifeline. 🙂

  4. We also support Meir Panim, and have read about several other organizations that do similar work in Jerusalem, where the poor population is extensive.

    In Beit Shemesh, we donated to Lema’an Achai, a local organization which aided our local needy population. I believe there is a similar organization here in Efrat which we will support.

    We also like to support our community’s chesed committees which provide meals and support for families immediately following the birth of children, or who are sitting shiva.

  5. Meir Panim really is a wonderful organization. We give to a tzedakah here in town that feeds the poor (they have a lot of big trees sort of hiding the building to protect the clients’ privacy) and I also give a lot of clothes and toys about twice a year to local charities that distribute them to those in need.

    I always feel like I should do more, though. I would love to volunteer for one of those organizations.

  6. great stuff. keep up the good tzedakah work. just be sure that you check out all organizations very carefully for high overheads, high administrative costs, and high fund raising costs. (to me, ‘high’ is anything over 10%).

    that is, when you give a dollar or a shekel, 90% or more of it should go to program and not to salaries, rent, airfare, etc.

    be efficient and effective in your tzedakah giving!

    arnie draiman

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