The nightmares haunted me as they haunted Pharaoh. Those two dreams – the seven fat cows being devoured by the seven lean, the seven healthy ears of corn swallowed by the sickly thin. And the dream should haunt us also as we talk not of Egypt 3500 years ago but, here, today, in our own land. For here, in America, where we, where so many of us, live in historically unimagined opulence, one can see the seven fat cows and the seven lean dwelling almost side-by-side. And we divert our eyes from those seven lean cows. They are out there – among the over 20% of America’s children who are growing up in poverty; among the 17-18 million American households which are food insecure (people who are at risk of growing hungry on any given day because they do not have enough money to buy food); among those upon whom we have embarked quite an experiment. In place of entitlement programs, block grants to various states; in place of governmental benefits, reliance upon private charity and the voluntary sector. As someone wrote in a Newsweek story several years ago, “as more of us indulge our passion for local organic delicacies, a growing number of Americans don’t have enough nutritious food to eat.” As MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, has put it “the faces of hunger in America are both familiar and hidden from view, yet they are all too real and far too many.”
That is why our congregation is joining with MAZON in its exhibit of “This is Hunger,” a nationwide public tour to encourage and challenge us to fully engage in eliminating hunger in America. “This is Hunger” is, literally, an experiential installation on wheels. Truth be told, it is a 53 foot long double trailer that will be parked in our parking lot to provide a thousand square feet of space “to take participants on a voyage of awareness and activism; to help them understand the stark reality of hunger in America and spark a commitment to taking action that will help end hunger” here in America. As this exhibit travels across America, it will be coming here to Milwaukee from Chicago and will be in our parking lot from June 22 through June 25. Reenie Kavalar, who chairs our Salinsky Program to Feed the Hungry, has taken on the task of coordinating the exhibit with other organizations in town and in providing volunteer greeters to provide welcome and friendly faces as people come in for the tour. The “This is Hunger” trailer is staffed by a MAZON facilitator and a MAZON driver/facilitator. They will guide visitors through the exhibit with each session lasting approximately 45 minutes. To volunteer, please be in touch with Reenie at [email protected] You will also find another article about the exhibit on page 8 in this issue of Ha-Kol. The exhibit is open to the general public and reservations may be made for visits through MAZON’s website and through Eventbrite. We are honored to host “This is Hunger;” we are also haunted by hunger’s existence. May the exhibit move each and every one of us to action.