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Past Articles:
THE SANDWICH MAN





What did your child
bring to school for breakfast this morning?

Would you believe there are children who don’t bring anything? Each morning, the Pat Shacharit organization distributes sandwiches to hungry schoolchildren. Below, read about the hesed organization fueling students
with nutrition.

It’s morning recess in Israel, known in Hebrew as “Aruchat Esser.” During this first meal of the day –
breakfast – children are expected to bring their food from home. After washing their hands and eating, most of them descend to the schoolyard and spend timehappily running around before the school day begins. But some of the children do not follow that routine. Some of the children simply skip breakfast altogether because they haven’t brought a packed meal
to enjoy.

Rabbi Yehudah Chizkiyah, the administratorof a large elementary school, began to notice a group of children who stood out from the rest. These children were always the first ones downstairs and didn’t miss a minute of playtime. After a while, the questions began to niggle at his mind: How could the children possibly stay outside from beginning to end? When did they manage to eat? And if they didn’t, how would they have the energy to learn until four or five in the afternoon?

One day, Rabbi Chizkiyah approached these children while they were at play and asked them if they had already finished eating. He was stunned by their response: They hadn’t eaten a thing! They had not brought sandwiches from home – and yes, that was a daily norm for them.

From then on, Rabbi Chizkiyah began buying additional loaves of bread. With them, his wife made about 30 sandwiches a day. She’d fill them with whatever spread she had filled her own children’s sandwiches with that morning – cheese with tomato, hummus with olives, tuna salad, egg, or chocolate. In this modestway,
30 sandwiches were distributed each day to children who
otherwise would have gone hungry.

Gratitude came to Rabbi Chizkiyah, not from the parents of these students, but from their teachers. Because, before long, they noticed a change. Now the students who were weak performers at best and disruptive at worst, had begun to sit nicely and participate. Their grades went up. What the
teachers had thought was ADHD turned out to be a different problem entirely: gnawing hunger that prevented them from learning.

The effect of the sandwiches was so marked, that Rabbi Chizkiyah often entered the teacher’s room to find his faculty arguing over their distribution. Why are you fighting?” he’d ask them. The teachers would explain that the sandwiches were coveted; whoever got the most would have the calmest classroom in the ensuing hours.

After coming to an understanding of just how many of his students had been food deprived, Rabbi Chizkiyah extended the service to nearby schools. Slowly, the project took off. Word spread from one school to the next that assistance could be found through Pat Shacharit, and the requests were not long in coming. After investigating each case to confirm that, indeed, the requested quantity was necessary and not superfluous, the organization readily provided for those children in need.

“We repeatedly ask the schools to follow up with us to see if there is anything left,” Mrs. Chizkiyah notes. “The teachers are asked to observe the weaker students and try to determine if the problem is not alack of nutrition. One teacher told me that she noticed one girl who sometimes came to school with bread, and sometimes came without. After a while, the teacher went over to the girl and asked her why she hadn’t brought bread that day. The simple answer shocked her to the core: ‘Because today was not my turn to receive a sandwich. It was my brother’s turn.’” Such is the poverty of many families in today’s Jewish communities.

In time, the initial 30 sandwiches became 100, and 100 turned into 1,000. The multitude of thank you letters filed at the organization’s office is the best testimony to its
widespread  influence.

During the peak of the organization’s activity, 4,000 sandwiches were prepared each day and sent all over the country! You might wonder, has the economic situation improved? Are less sandwiches being distributed these days? “On the contrary,” replies a distraught Rabbi Chizkiyah “The difficult financial situation has led to reduced donations, and today we cannot
fill the demand, which has only grown. The Jerusalem branch
has stopped distributing sandwiches, and our activities have been scaled back.”

Pat Shacharit and Maran
Hacham Ovadia Yosef

Before he passed, Maran Hacham Ovadia Yosef, zt”l, blessed the Pat Shacharit organization and issued a warm letter of endorsement. The hungry children were close to his heart and he considered the distribution of bread in the morning a matter of vital importance.

Maran himself was raised in apoverty-stricken family – his father had wanted him to help out in the family grocery to bring in more parnassah. But at the insistence of Rav Attiya, zt”l, Maran continued to learn in yeshivah full time,
as he quoted, “Hizaharu bivnei aniyim shemeihem teitzei Torah!(Be careful with poor children, for from them Torah
will emanate!)”

A Campaign L’Iluy Nishmat Maran HaRav Ovadia, ZT”l

In total, six berachotare recited on each sandwich that is eaten – AlNetilat Yadayimand Hamotzibefore eating and the four berachotsaid in Birkat Hamazonafterwards. These berachotserve as a merit that raise neshamothigh. Donations to Pat Shacharit can be dedicated in memory of the soul of Hacham Ovadia Yosef, zt”l. One can also choose to fund a single day’s sandwiches. A daily supporter funds the making of
1,000 sandwiches and contributes 6,000berachot l’iluy
nishmat
Maran, zt”l!

To donate, dial 03-5744670 (If calling from the US, dial
011-972-3-5744670). You can also mail your donation to Pat Shacharit, c/o Rabbi Yehuda Chizkiyah,Kehillot Yaakov 69, Bnei Brak – 03-5744670.

In the words of the great gadol ha’dor: “All the ones who help will receive beracha from Hashem, and merit much abundance, beracha, wealth, honor, and kol tuv.”