More than 9,000 Mishloach Manos packages were distributed on Purim in conjunction with a special initiative to counteract the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) joined with the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates, NY to launch this project, which encouraged synagogues to support Israeli businesses and commerce by preparing and packaging their Mishloach Manos exclusively with products that are made in Israel. The goal was to send a message to the Israeli people that American Jewry stands in solidarity with them by having synagogues from across the United States participating in this important project.
Nearly 50 shuls, schools and other organizations took part in the anti-BDS Mishloach Manos initiative. Participants hailed from across the United States and Canada, including from New York, New Jersey, Florida, Michigan, California, Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
“The foundation of the National Council of Young Israel is our branch synagogues and Israel advocacy, like the story of Purim we must battle again the Hamanic decree of the BDS movement,” said NCYI Director of Rabbinic Services Rabbi Binyamin Hammer. “Rabbi Hochberg and his congregation, the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates, are our modern day Mordechai’s and Esther’s, they are leading us through the mitzvah of Mishloach Manos.”
“I am overjoyed by the outpouring of support for Israel engendered by the Mishloach Manos anti-BDS project, and equally thrilled with the expression of unity for our Jewish people in our communities, well beyond our synagogues, across the country,” said Rabbi Shlomo Hochberg of the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates. “I have received positive feedback from rabbis from across the Jewish spectrum as to the beauty of Jews supporting Jews both financially and emotionally through their own varied businesses.
As part of the anti-BDS Mishloach Manos initiative, synagogues were able to either order products directly from Israel or purchase Israeli-made goods at their local supermarket to include in their Purim packages. Special anti-BDS tags, which contained a Tefillah (prayer) for the Israel Defense Forces and which could be affixed to the Mishloach Manos packages, were made available free of charge from the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates.
“How great is it that so many shuls and institutions were able to come together in support of such a worthy cause,” said Rivky Orlow of the Young Israel of Jamaica Estates’ Purim Committee. “This project was a win-win. It enabled the participants to turn their frustration into action by actually doing something on a large scale to combat BDS, and it sent a message to our brothers and sisters in Israel that they are not alone. Kol Hakavod to all those who participated.”
“I am especially proud of the women of Young Israel of Jamaica Estates and its active Sisterhood, who initiated the idea, and who worked tirelessly to enable the program to extend across the continent and reverberate in communities throughout our precious Land of Israel,” added Rabbi Hochberg. “The notion of ‘Buying Israel/Buying Jewish’ can and should extend throughout the year – not only for food, but for other products as well wherever possible. It also reminds us, with Pesach upon us, to be cognizant of the importance of supporting our local Jewish merchants and Israel products simultaneously. We are deemed worthy of redemption when we act together and for each other.”