Copying their annual Passover charitable event which provides food for poor Jewish families, Israeli paramedics launched a food drive for needy Muslim families during the holy month of Ramadan.

As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins, Israeli paramedics have organized a first-of-its-kind food drive for needy families in the northern Arab town of Baqa al-Gharbiyye – an operation modeled after the annual Passover food drive undertaken by the paramedic group Magen David Adom (MDA), the Israeli branch of the International Red Cross.

Over 500 meals were donated in just four days in the food drive – code-named Kimcha d’Ramadan, after the traditional Kimcha d’Pischa campaign on Passover – organized by Fareed Abu Zakika, the MDA volunteer coordinator of the Hadera region.

“I’m shocked and thrilled – people gave so generously,” Abu Zakika said, explaining that he began the drive as a private endeavor but was soon overwhelmed by the communal outpouring of support, bringing in over 30 MDA employees and volunteers to help with the project.

The donations from the community were buoyed by wealthy local businessman, one of whom opened a tab of approximately US$5,000 at a local supermarket for the project and another who personally subsidized food for 40 families.

“I’m happy to know that we can help a large number of needy families have their Ramadan meals with respect,” Abu Zakika added.

Ramadan is a sacred month on the Muslim calendar in which the devout fast each day and hold festive communal meals each night. Observance of the fasts is one of Islam’s Five Pillars, though the Quran itself allows for one who has trouble fasting to substitute “a ransom of feeding a poor person” in place of the daily fast.

Eli Bin, CEO of MDA, welcomed the food drive.

“We at MDA do our utmost to provide nice holiday meals to needy families for Rosh Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and the (Passover) Seder, and now, for the first time, Arab volunteers have initiated a similar drive for the month of Ramadan,” Bin said. “MDA is an organization whose life-saving activity is intertwined with the lives of Israeli residents of all faiths.”

By Jesse Lempel/TPS

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