Masbia’s Work Highlighted in NYU News


masbiaThe following article by Jessica Abromson about the wonderful work of Masbia Soup Kitchen in Boro Park, Brooklyn, appeared in the NYU News:

With a Hollywood-like red carpet, a host stand and plants separating each table, the setup of Masbia, New York City’s only kosher soup kitchen, is designed more like a classy restaurant than a soup line. Although Masbia, tucked away in Brooklyn’s Borough Park, caters to the poor and the homeless, this soup kitchen doesn’t lack glamour.

“We want everyone who comes to feel like they are eating in dignity and not like they’re eating in a soup kitchen,” said Alex Rapaport, Masbia’s co-founder.

Masbia was founded by a group of activists from the Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community in April 2005 and is famous for serving diners in an organized, systematic fashion.Unfortunately, as a result of recent economic turmoil, the kitchen has received fewer donations. And with the rising unemployment rate, there has been a rise in the number of women and children who come for daily meals; the kitchen is now tasked with feeding approximately 160 to 200 people per night.

“Six months ago, we had to buy high chairs and booster seats to fit the need,” said Sea Gate resident Joseph Steinberger, Masbia’s kosher supervisor who goes to Borough Park each day.

These pressures have amplified the kitchen’s efforts to serve. On Saturday, Feb. 7, Masbia hosted a “Melaveh Malka” fundraiser. Melaveh Malka – which means “escorting the queen” in Hebrew – is the traditional Saturday night meal, served to mark the exit of the Sabbath and the symbolic Sabbath queen.

“We wanted our donors to have a real connection to what we do, so they came to the actual place where we serve the hungry,” Rapaport said. “But because the economy is so bad right now, people who gave $1,000 last year only gave $36 this year.”

Regardless of the economy, Masbia is able to satisfy more than just grumbling stomachs. Volunteers at Masbia want to make it not just a soup kitchen but a place that nourishes the mind, body and soul.

“I applaud Masbia’s efforts. There are so many people that take meals for granted,” CAS sophomore Amanda Starnes said.

NYU students can help Masbia by donating clothes and toys, or volunteering as waiters at their Brooklyn location (4114 14th Ave.) on Sundays through Thursdays from 4 to 9 p.m. Students can also help by sending money donations to P.O. Box 191181, Brooklyn, NY 11219.

 {Elisha Newscenter}