On Saturday, February 25, 2023, the holy Jewish Shabbat day of rest, white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups across the United States planned an anti-Semitic “national day of hate,” amassing their energy to show hate for Jews. But Hillel UCLA brought Tzedakah.
These extremists, including neo-Nazis, had planned to hold rallies and distribute fliers. However and after all, as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) reported, there were no unusual incidents reported; it turned out to be a Shabbat of peace, not hate.
Hillel is a Foundation for Jewish Campus Life; it is the largest Jewish campus organization in the world, working with thousands of college students globally. Hillel on the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) campus is a home away from home for Jewish students. The UCLA group concentrates on Jewish life activities, getting the students close to Judaism and doing good in the world. The students are rather shielded from the world’s woes.
Hillel UCLA concentrates on the joy, not the ‘oy’ (Oy vay is the Jewish expression for dismay, frustration, or grief).
The Hillel UCLA group were well aware in advance of the “national day of hate,” and decided to counteract it with Tzedakah mixed with camaraderie and fun.
Tzedakah is understood to mean a spontaneous act of goodwill, a marker of generosity.
Celine, a 2nd year student at UCLA came up with the idea that if the group shows up one evening at the Margaret Feder Our Big Kitchen Los Angeles (OBKLA) they not only do Tzedakah but will learn the art of giving back to the community and helping those who are in need. When you practice the art of giving early in life, the art of doing good for the world, there is a good chance that someone else may emulate your act of goodness, Celine explained the concept to me.
OBKLA is the perfect venue to learn how to prepare basic healthy meals for the needy and have fun doing it.
The UCLA Hillel students group decided to have fun in a very different way. At the end of February 2023 they all showed up at OBKLA venue, put on an apron and a hair net and got to cut vegetables and prepare meatballs, resulting in a healthy meal to be delivered to places in Los Angeles where there are people who can certainly do with a freshly cooked hot meal.
The interest in OBKLA activities is growing. Though OBKLA is a kosher food producer that fits the Jewish people’s food consumption tradition, its purpose for existence reaches way beyond the Jewish community.
While I was snooping around to get in with the UCLA Hillel students’ ambiance, Yossi Segelman, OBKLA Director, with experience in marketing management, business planning, change management, coaching, and management as well as working in non-profit and public company management in the US and Australia, was being interviewed for Fuente Latina. The organization with headquarters in Miami, Florida, and offices in Madrid and Jerusalem, is a global Spanish-language media, founded in 2012, that provides news and commentary on the Middle East to Spanish-language news outlets.
With more than half a billion people around the world consuming news in Spanish today, and as Hispanics continue to be the fastest-growing minority in the U.S., media matters more than ever! Now the benevolence idea of OBKLA will be reaching the Spanish speaking communities. They might just learn to emulate the OBKLA concept.
OBKLA is not only a venue where one volunteers to prepare a hearty meal for an unknown needy person. It is also a pin pointer of the great divide between the affluent and glamour Los Angeles and homelessness. OBKLA provides a place for the community to meet, greet and help those who could do with a “hand-up,” rather than a “hand-out.”
Back to the UCLA Hill group of students. Nothing is more rewarding than spending two hours learning culinary tips from OBKLA chef and producing a tasty meal that will calm the hungry growling sound of a needy person’s stomach.
A good deed indeed that does not go unnoticed.
To understand the OBKLA concept, here it is in photos: