Music was on the menu at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy cafeteria on Sunday, July 19. The Bryn Mawr-based school was the site of an alumni concert benefiting Federation's Mitzvah Food Project. This first-time event, Harmonies for Hunger Relief, raised $2,600.
The musicians' gift of song will provide 326 food packages for distribution at five food pantries operated by Federation's Mitzvah Food Project. The pantries are volunteer-run and serve 2000 households yearly throughout Greater Philadelphia.
Some 200 people attended the concert, which was organized by sisters Deena and Sara Goldstein, Barrack alumnae.
Eleven current Barrack students and alumni performed popular and original tunes, including selections from the musicals "42nd Street," "Phantom of the Opera" and "Rent." This was the first benefit staged on behalf of the Mitzvah Food Project in its 13-year history.
According to Lee Hillerson, chair of the Project's advisory board, "the Mitzvah Food Project is thrilled to be the recipient of this incredible gift -- the benefit concert. Deena and Sara organized an evening of wonderful entertainment. It was professionally planned, surpassed its financial goal and succeeded in raising awareness of food insecurity in the Jewish community."
Organizer Deena Goldstein said "it was inspiring to see such a diverse group of people -- from the performers to the audience members -- come together to raise funds to help alleviate hunger in the Jewish community."
Mitzvah Food Project volunteer Joseph Loewenberg, 75, of Wynnewood, who attended the concert with his wife, Ann Krupnick, said that he was "thoroughly delighted that these students were willing to share their talents for the cause."
Loewenberg, a semi-retired professor of labor relations at Temple University, packs food bags twice a month at the Kaiserman JCC, which houses one of the project's food pantries.
Sara Goldstein credits the concert's success to the Philadelphia community.
According to her, the region "fully supports its youth, which is why we had such a great turnout. It shows how a Jewish community can bond together to spread lots of support in different areas."
Hillerson said that she "hopes the concert inspires people to volunteer a few hours a month for the Mitzvah Food Project."
Loewenberg echoed this sentiment: "I enjoy the group effort and the hands-on aspect of volunteering with the Mitzvah Food Project. The work of packing or delivering food is my direct link -- my direct contribution to moving the food from the shelves to the people who need it."
For more concert photos, see: www.jewishphilly.org/mfp .