FREE soup for the elderly

AROUND 50 young volunteers gathered at the National Council of Jewish Women of Australia’s (NCJWA’s) Fanny Reading Council House late last month to cook for the elderly.

Cooking For A Cause is the first major event of Friends of Refugees of Eastern Europe’s (FREE’s) Soup Kitchen initiative for 2014.

The drive aims to provide elderly residents from the Russian-Jewish community living in inner-city public housing with a meal and some company every week.

Soup Kitchen founder Rabbi Eli Schlanger said he’s been overwhelmed by the amount of people wanting to volunteer. “I’m just so inspired by the community, by their willingness to give,” he said.

Volunteers cooked, packed and delivered 50 hampers which included quiche, soup, salad, garlic bread and apple crumble.

Every week Rabbi Schlanger takes a Russian-Jewish volunteer from the community to deliver soup and a bagel to the elderly, and to have a chat. “This is about spending time with people. These people need you more than they need the soup,” he said.

“People are walking out of their BMWs to give a helping hand. It’s been amazing.”

He said the residents “light up” when they have company in their “lonely, quiet” apartments and encouraged more people to volunteer.

Rabbi Schlanger hopes to have regular community cook-ins. “There’s a lot of good out there.”

To get involved with FREE Soup Kitchen, visit


From left: Volunteers Kassy Goldberg, Arielle Ginzburg, Ben Krimotat, Sarah Zizer. Photo: Eli Rice