“VOLUNTEERING IS HUMBLING,” says Saul Sapadin, 13. “It helps me realize all of the things I should be grateful for.”
Saul started volunteering at our Emergency Food Program with his family while he was attending our Early Childhood Center, and it became their tradition to volunteer as often as possible until the pandemic struck. Once the city began to reopen, the Sapadins returned to help out — and Saul made it his mission to come every week for the past year and a half.
Service helps connect Saul to Judaism, he says. “Jewish tradition has always carved out a way to help those in need,” Saul explains, referencing Leviticus: “And when you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap all the way to the edges of your field… you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger” (Leviticus 23:22).
And he sure knows his stuff; Saul just celebrated his bar mitzvah at Temple Emanu-El, where his mom serves as associate rabbi. Two months before the celebration, in lieu of flowers, the Sapadin family ordered non-perishable food to create donation-basket centerpieces for each of the tables at their kiddush meal. “Each of the centerpieces had a card explaining how people could donate to the Emergency Food Program,” Saul explains.
“We received an entire cart full of food with hundreds of cans of tuna, juice boxes,
milk boxes, fruit cups, apple sauce, and boxes of cereal,” says Scott DiSavino, the Emergency Food Program’s volunteer coordinator. “Saul is one of the most dedicated volunteers we have — and a major asset to the program and to our community.” In addition to arranging the food packages, Saul fundraised more than $5,500 to support the program.
“Having too much of something can be bad for you, even if it’s healthy or good,” Saul said from the bimah during his d’var Torah about Joseph’s arrogance. He concluded his remarks by speaking about his service with the EFP: “A great way to keep yourself from being arrogant is to be involved in the community and give what you can offer.”
“Saul’s work at the EFP brought so much depth to his bar mitzvah preparation,” says his mom, Rabbi Sara Sapadin. “He has truly received so much more than he has given.”
And Saul plans to keep on giving. You can still find him most Saturday mornings distributing food to our neighbors in need. Learn more about our Emergency Food Program or sign up to volunteer at swfs.org/efp.