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Submitted by Jason Booth, Communications Associate, Winnipeg Harvest
Sandy Hyman explains two phrases, Gemilut Chasadim and Tikkun Olam, exemplify the Jewish community’s dedication to charitable causes. “The giving of loving kindness,” and, “repair of the world” are philosophies that mesh perfectly with the views of most Winnipeg Harvest volunteers and supporters, who have given food, time, and money to share with Manitobans in need since 1985.

Hyman, a member of Congregation Etz Chayim, has been coordinating the synagogue’s volunteer team for many years. The group has been donating time to Harvest since roughly 2005, when Etz Chayim’s rabbi asked her to plan some projects for tikkun olam activities. David Northcott, Harvest’s long-time Executive Director, also happened to be a friend.
“In our faith, charity is very important–not just money, but investing of oneself,” says Hyman. “Caring for others, using our energy to ensure people don’t go hungry; it’s about respect for each other because we depend upon one another.”
Ben Berkal, a member of congregation Shaarey Zedek, echoes Hyman’s outlook.
“Judaism is a religion of values and action, and putting values into action: doing good deeds, helping those less fortunate, and being a part of the community.”
“I’ve been volunteering for just over one year, but I’ve volunteered with Harvest before,” says Berkal. “Shaarey Zedek has been coming for several years – once a month, at least eight to twelve people of all ages. Some come as individuals, parents with children, and grandparents with kids. I’ve brought my daughter, and she’d like to continue – she’s been about three times this year.
“It’s a good way to share your values with your children – I really respect those that bring their kids and grandkids. It’s a good model.”
Hyman agrees. “It’s nice to see all ages. It’s intergenerational. Little ones carrying empty bags or counting boxes, the strong can carry the heavy crates and move them to pallets. The elderly, young people, young families – there’s a good balance. Everyone can participate at their level, working together as a team to get the job done.”
Tammy Watson, Director of Volunteer Services at Winnipeg Harvest, says faith groups like Shaarey Zedek and Etz Chayim make for some of the most reliable volunteers because of their strong commitment to community service and helping those I need.
“Etz Chayim, Shaarey Zedek, Waverley Church, the Latter-day Saints and the many, many faith groups that make time for Harvest are huge contributors to the success of our weekly operations,” says Watson. “Thousands of individuals and families rely on Harvest for the food we share, and Harvest relies on volunteers to get that food in and out the door safely and efficiently every day. Reliability is gold–we really appreciate that effort.”
Hyman and Berkal credit good volunteer support and a fun atmosphere as reasons they keep coming back.

“They keep it interesting and safe,” says Hyman. “Our group meets other people and families participating that they may not have met otherwise. It’s always a surprise what we’ll be doing next – what are we working on today?”
“Harvest does its job,” says Berkal. “We’re well-supervised, they show us how to set up and do each job. It’s a husband and wife team – Brian and Katy Van de Mosselaer – who we usually work with. They’re very organized and always helpful. That support is greatly appreciated.”
We keep coming because it’s enjoyable, you meet with friends and family and work jointly to make the world better,” says Berkal.

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