Feeding the everyday hunger

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Fasting on Yom Kippur, we briefly experience what it feels like to have empty, growling bellies. Then, at the end of the Day of Atonement, we break the fast at sumptuous buffets and our hunger ends as quickly as it began.

Unfortunately, millions of people around the world are forced to fast every day, a fact that is easy to overlook in the midst of the comfortable lives many of us lead.

This year, as we sit in synagogue, may each hunger pang serve as a reminder of those who do not choose to have empty stomachs.

Many congregations hold annual Yom Kippur food drives, asking congregants to donate nonperishables as well as the cost of food they would have consumed during the fast.

Other avenues for aiding the hungry exist, as well.

This year, for example, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger has joined with the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements to make an unprecedented joint appeal for funds to help end hunger.

The funds will go to MAZON, a group that makes grants to nonprofit organizations confronting hunger in the United States, Israel and impoverished countries throughout the world. MAZON is located at 12401 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 303, Los Angeles, CA 90025-1015.

The campaign, dubbed "Leave the Corners of Our Fields," refers to the Leviticus injunction to "leave the corners of your fields ungleaned, for the poor and the stranger."

Indeed, while Yom Kippur may call our attention to the issue of hunger, there are many everyday opportunities to leave the corners of our fields ungleaned.

How difficult is it, after all, to buy an extra bagel in the morning and give it to a person on the street? How hard is it to buy a few extra pieces of fruit at the grocery store and put them aside for someone in need?

This year, as we search for true tshuvah — genuine return to the best within us — let us think of those who go hungry all year round.