How to Teach Kids About Feeding the Hungry

There are many mitzvot, or commandments, in Judaism about taking care of others. People are told to visit the sick, honor the elderly, perform acts of kindness, be a good friend, and improve their communities and the world around them.

friends and family volunteering at a soup kitchen

Children are eager to help and while some concepts may feel too lofty or large to grasp at first, an idea like helping someone have enough to eat – every child knows what being hungry feels like – is one that kids can easily wrap their minds around. Feeding the hungry or maakhal revi’im, is a mitzvah that kids can start to understand as they learn more about helping others and doing good. Learn more with the stories, videos, and activities below.

READ

Bagels From Benny by Aubrey Davis

Recommended for children 5 to 6 years old

While working in his grandfather’s bakery, Benny learns the joys of giving and receiving, caring and gratitude.


Bone Button Borscht by Aubrey Davis

Recommended for children 5 to 6 years old

In this gentle retelling of the Stone Soup tale, an imaginative beggar teaches the miserly residents of a shtetl the spirit of community.


Hanukkah Cookies With Sprinkles by David Adler

Recommended for children 6 to 7 years old

Sara and her family are getting ready for Hanukkah -- which means delicious foods, including cookies! But then she notices one man who doesn’t seem to eat much at all, let alone Hanukkah treats. Sara decides to try and help


Joseph and the Sabbath Fish by Eric A. Kimmel

Recommended for children 6 to 7 years old

Joseph always welcomes guests to his Sabbath table, while his neighbor Judah scoffs at Joseph’s generosity. Even as his fortunes decline, Joseph’s door remains open. Times change and Judah turns to Joseph for help. A very special fish helps save the day.


The Magician’s Visit by Barbara Goldin

Recommended for children 6 to 7 years old

In this classic folktale, a mysterious visitor magically helps a poor couple find all the things they need for a perfect seder.


The Wooden Sword by Ann Redisch Stampler

Recommended for children 7 to 8 years old

Disguised as a servant, an Afghani shah slips out of his palace to get to know his people. When he encounters a poor Jewish shoemaker full of faith that everything will turn out just as it should, he decides to test that faith. Will the shoemaker's cheerful optimism be shaken when faced with a matter of life and death?

WATCH

These short videos introduce children to the idea of helping others and show the big difference that one child can make in their community.

ADINA HELPS THOSE IN NEED via ShalomSesame

HOW ONE KID IS HELPING FEED THE HUNGRY via Katie’s Krops

DO

PLANT A GARDEN

You can informally share the produce with your neighbors or reach out to your local soup kitchens or food banks. These organizations often have a need for fresh produce in addition to canned goods. Planting a garden also provides a chance to teach kids about the Jewish values of repairing the world, tikkun olam, and bal taschit, not wasting needlessly.

PARTICIPATE IN A FOOD DRIVE

You can get involved with your local food bank, organize your own drive, or turn an event like a birthday party into an all day service project. For some inspiration, check out this story of two siblings who turned their big day into a sandwich making party to help the homeless.

MAKE GIVING PART OF YOUR ROUTINE

Whether you have a weekly tzedakah practice at home, cleanout and donate items seasonally, or have a standing service commitment, a regular routine helps reinforce the lessons about helping others. Everyone wants their kids to grow up to be a mensch, and modeling “menschy” behavior helps ensure that happens.

MORE

How to Teach Your Kids About Hunger via Feeding America
The Caring For Others Quiz via MyJewishLearning
Providing Food, Clothing, and Shelter via MyJewishLearning
Teaching Your Child Charity via Parenting.com