Monday, June 16, 2008

A Soup Kitchen Banquet: A Rabbi's Legacy

Last month I read a lovely story in the NYTimes about Masbia, a kosher soup kitchen in an ultra-religious neighborhood in Brooklyn. "Masbia" means satisfying. Once a year there's a steak dinner provided at Masbia, and let me tell you - kosher steak is expensive. The occasion of this gastronomic largesse? The yahrtseit, the anniversary of the death, of "Grand Rabbi Yeshaya Steiner of Kerestir, Hungary, who died in 1925 and who was known for feeding the hungry and other acts of charity." The story focused on the diners - proud people, down on their luck, grateful to have a great meal. It also highlighted the logistics of soup kitchens, which get meals on their tables 52 weeks a year.
My take-away is what a wonderful way to celebrate a person's life and recall their legacy. Yes it's nice to name a classroom, a scholarship, or event after someone, to honor their work. But I think feeding the poor at an annual feast like this is a particularly impactful way to be remembered. I would love to know how, more than 80 years after his death, Rabbi Steiner's legacy endures. It's already several generations past people having known him personally.
It is possible to leave an endowment in one's will for this sort of thing. Seems like a better way to be remembered than a big tombstone! Or how about taking a piece of a wedding budget for an elaborate, over-the-top meal that most people eat just a fraction of, and

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

masbia is actually a verb, meaning to satiate. liked this blog; have a hard time understanding the mentality behind building buildings to be remembered.