This year, instead of burning our hametz in a bonfire or selling it to a non-Jew, let’s deliver it to those who really need it: refugees, asylum seekers, and the indigent non-Jewish population that lives among us.

As is well known, it is a mitzva to dispose of all hametz and leaven from our homes before Passover. Throughout the Jewish world, this is accomplished by burning the hametz in a large communal bonfire. There is even a custom to use objects – like a used lulav or leftover Hanukka oil – that have previously been used for a mitzva, so as to attach them to another mitzva and dispose of them in a respectful way.

On the other hand, sometimes we burn food that could have been salvaged (and eating is considered a bona fide method of disposal). Additionally, we sometimes burn food items that need not be disposed of – for example, kitniyot for Ashkenazim – but that would go bad before the end of Passover. Moreover, many people burn plastic packaging and bags, items that are not hametz but pollute the air when burned. It also goes without saying that large bonfires constitute a safety hazard, especially with young children in the area.

A waste and a safety hazard. Ultra-Orthodox Jews burn hametz before Passover in Jerusalem (photo credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90)

A waste and a safety hazard. Ultra-Orthodox Jews burn hametz before Passover in Jerusalem (photo credit: Matanya Tausig/Flash90)

Therefore, let us combine two different mitzvot and dispose of our hametz by giving it to those who need it and are not bound by restrictions on eating hametz on Passover. Let us donate those items that we would not have otherwise sold, and thus fulfill what it says in the haggadah: “all who are hungry — let them come and eat.”

In the coming weeks, details about collection and distribution points will be published on the Facebook event page. Feel free to join, share, and invite others to help make a difference.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday.