Passover Thoughts

Passover reminds us of the value of freedom and the need for Tikkun Olam to welcome the stranger. Ukrainian refugees are on our mind. My previous newsletter message suggested ways to help them. These thoughts were on my mind when I recently met Nancy Evans. You might ask who is Nancy? A new member? Although not Jewish or an IJC member, she has been involved with our community for a long time. Nancy is our liaison to Nativitas, the Brussels soup kitchen that IJC long has supported with Hannukah food donations.


To me, the Hanukkah food drive is an essential part of IJC’s DNA.  In a time of joy, we think of those who have not been so lucky in life and are in need of help. The Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, is a central value in Liberal Judaism.  We might feel powerless faced with the war, hunger, and natural catastrophes, but food drives for Nativitas represent a concrete way to help.

Because of the pandemic, IJC cancelled in-person events for two years, including our Hannukah parties. Nativitas closed its food kitchen. Instead of cooking meals, they prepared take away food bags for homeless people. This year, IJC contributed over 250 beverages to these food bags.

Nativitas now has re-opened its soup kitchen. Created in 1975, the NGO today counts 100 volunteers and provides support to the destitute, isolated, and precarious at its headquarters in the Maroilles. If you want to get involved, please contact Nancy,

Other charities are doing valuable work to help the homeless, refugees, and other poor or marginalized people. Chris Guichot de Fortis - husband of IJC member Julia Poger - is a driving force behind l’Olivier.  It provides refugees with food - and holistic legal support. 40 families rely on this charity every week for food and they urgently need donations. An app Serve Now includes links for several Belgian charities. Or just sign up to volunteer through this spreadsheet

I look forward to seeing many of you at our upcoming in-person Seder. As we revisit the story of Exodus during the meal, we are reminded that we were once strangers in Egypt and endured hardship under the Pharaohs. God liberated us and we are now free. This is certainly a reason for a celebration, but let us think on this Passover about how we can help, heal and care for those in need.

Anu Ristola

IJC President


Beverages bought with IJC Nativitas donations