ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Passover begins Friday and millions of Jewish people across the world will observe the holiday. 

For some, like Jewish service members, celebrating one’s faith isn’t always easy. That’s why one local group has stepped in to help. 

In 2007, the Jewish Soldiers Project was founded in Rochester. Keith Freedman started the project after learning about the number of Jewish soldiers serving across the world.

“I got in contact with an army rabbi who was serving in Iraq, he sent me a list of 70 Jewish service members he knew just in Iraq and basically said, ‘do what you can,'” Freedman said.

So Freedman founded the Jewish Soldiers Project. The project involves sending packages to Jewish service members so they can celebrate their faith no matter where they are stationed.

“Our first major project was Passover 2008. We sent 10 little Passover packages that year and from that, the Jewish Soldiers Project has grown into a project that serves thousands of Jewish service members every year,” Freedman said. 

In 2021, hundreds of packages went to service members serving in 20 nations. Each one is filled with items to celebrate Passover, like Matzah, fish, soup mix, horseradish, and desserts. They also include cards of appreciation from students.  

“It’s not so much that we’re sending them the food, but it’s a sense of community,” Freedman said. “They know that somewhere out there, here in Rochester, New York, for example, there is a community that cares enough about them to send them packages.”

The packages are sent year-round, whenever Freedman hears about a new Jewish service member. They are also sent to people in the U.S., like those in the South without a Jewish community, or people who can’t easily access Passover food.

“It’s really important that we support our service members both stateside and overseas,” Freedman said. “They get a lot of attention when they are deployed to a hotspot like Afghanistan or Iraq, or now Europe, but the reality is, is that these same service members have families and kids and they need support year-round.”

The Jewish Soldiers Project sends the most packages to service members over Passover. Freedman says it’s been “heartwarming” to see all the community support.

If you are looking to donate, you can send check to Temple Beth David with the Jewish Soldiers Project on the memo line.

You can also donate on their website by clicking on ‘pay dues’ then ‘soldiers project.’ You can also donate through their GoFundMe campaign by clicking here.