Samuel Domsky’s Annual Mitzvah Marks 20 Years of Feeding the Poor at Passover

A few hundred volunteers participate in Passover food packing at Temple Sinai on April 9. Kenneth Brown

Matzo … borscht … applesauce … chicken broth … tuna fish … coffee … a handmade card … calendar … cheese … apple … candied jellies … macaroons … gefilte fish … tomato sauce … chicken — and eggs.

Or is it eggs and then chicken?

Samuel Domsky has his own Passover order, just like at our seder tables.

The difference is while we may complain about one thing or another, we generally know there will be more than enough for everybody to eat. The folks to whom Domsky and his many friends affiliated with Project H.O.P.E (Helping our People Everywhere) are feeding — and have been feeding for two decades — don’t necessarily know that.

That’s why a few hundred volunteers got up early on April 9, the day before Passover started, and headed to Temple Sinai in Dresher. There they were met by some 624 empty bags which needed filling — two bags for each address on the long delivery route.

In the span of just over an hour, they filled those bags. Parents brought their children to help out, trying to put some of some of those inherent Jewish values they’re taught at Hebrew school into action.

Or, as Shira Schulman’s mother put it about her 6-year-old daughter, “Morgan’s in her first year in Sunday school. Her Jewish education is just starting, and we want to start out on the right foot.

“It’s all about giving back to our community, making sure everyone has what they need for the holidays. It’s important my daughter sees that from the beginning.

“We want to keep that going for future generations.”

So does Domsky, who started coordinating this effort in his garage in 1997 when local synagogues and supermarkets donated enough food for 75 families. It’s evolved into a three-month undertaking under the auspices of B’nai B’rith’s Liberty Region, which raises some $30,000 to cover the costs.

It’s also become one of the signature events on Temple Sinai’s calendar, although the people going through the various assembly lines to fill the bags, then load them into the caravan of cars that transport them throughout the region come from across the board.

“It says our congregation is willing and open to help the greater community,” said Temple Sinai President Jeffrey Hampton, whose now-grown children used to be among those pitching in. “This is just as an important part of Passover as their own seder.

“An important part of Passover is to open your home. This is an expanded way for us to do it. It’s never a question of if. It’s always a question of when and what can we do?

“We have plenty of our members, but we also have people from the greater community helping out. It’s really a nice thing.”

Domsky, in effect, serves as their Moses.

“Passover always had significant meaning to me,” said the 56-year-old Domsky, general manager of Whitemarsh Memorial Park in Horsham. “The story of the plight of the Jews. The story that we live in a country which is all about freedom and many Jews are isolated and alone.

“I liked the idea of helping people in need. I know how expensive things are and feel an obligation to make sure people who want to observe can. We’re taught as part of tzedakah to repair the world. I just want to do my part.”

He does much more than that according to his Aaron, right-hand man Steve Pilchik.

“Samuel does it all,” said Pilchik, who takes all those addresses and coordinates the delivery routes for some 120 drivers.

“The first time I went to his house, I brought my two boys. We still have the same ’99 Honda Oasis we used then. Besides this, he does fundraisers. He runs a basketball game, Hoops for H.O.P.E. Runs a poker game.

“He’s doing a good thing. You can tell it makes him feel good. But it’s a team effort. People come year after year. Everybody knows what they need to do, but Samuel’s there if there are issues.”

As things began to wind down, with the last of the bags loaded into the cars, Domsky took a moment to reflect.

“You know, feeding people hits a nerve,” he said,. “I hit a nerve 20 years ago, and people come back every year. They know the day before Passover they’ve done a really big mitzvah, so they can sit around the seder table and be proud of who we are as a people.

“But I’m already thinking about how we can do it better next year. Raise more money. Feed more people, Build more awareness. Fight poverty. One of the things people continually don’t realize is how many Jewish poor there are.

“There’s a stereotype out there that we Jews are all well-off. But there’s so many who are not, and a lot of us find it’s our responsibility to take care of those that aren’t.”

For this Moses and his followers there’s only one thing left to say: Next year in Dresher.

Contact:; 215-832-0729


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