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Thursday, October 30, 2014
Feeding the hungry
Temple Emanu-El and Island Harvest host annual food drive
Courtesy Dan Rosner
Stefen Rosner, when he was 7, with frozen turkeys his family purchased in 2005 to deliver to Island Harvest. He and his twin brother, Jamie, of Bellmore, now 15, have organized an annual Yom Kippur food drive at East Meadow

While many local residents fasted for 24 hours beginning last Friday evening in observance of Yom Kippur, Temple Emanu-El, of East Meadow, asked its members to go one step further and donate the food they didn’t eat to those who need it.

Continuing an annual tradition, the Merrick Avenue synagogue is accepting food donations to be sent to Island Harvest, a Mineola-based nonprofit organization that distributes food to Long Island food pantries, soup kitchens and other distribution services for people who can’t afford to buy food.

This year, the synagogue began accepting donations at the start of Rosh Hashana, on Sept. 4, and will continue doing so until Sept. 30, after Simchat Torah.

Island Harvest President and CEO Randi Shubin Dresner is an East Meadow native and a lifelong member of Temple Emanu-El. In 2005, shortly before Thanksgiving, she spoke to the congregation about hunger on Long Island. North Bellmore twins Stefen and Jamie Rosner were 7 at the time, and attended the service with their father, Daniel. “[Stefen] heard it and was kind of shocked to hear that there were children on Long Island who didn’t have enough to eat,” recalled Daniel, who has been a member of Temple Emanu-El since 1979. “He said, ‘We have to do something.’”

That night, the family bought several frozen turkeys and delivered them to Island Harvest. The next year, the twins turned their efforts into a formal drive, and it has grown ever since. Each year the drive collects more than 1,000 pounds of food.

The twins, now 15, are high school sophomores in the Bellmore Merrick School District — Stefen at Mepham High and Jamie at Calhoun. They now deliver an annual speech about hunger at the onset of the High Holy Days, urging the congregation to donate to the cause.

“Stefen and Jamie are amazing kids,” Shubin Dresner said. “I started in this business as a kid, and I’ve talked in front of groups … but I didn’t talk in front of 1,000 adults.”

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