To Life! Celebrate MAZON at 36

June 29, 2021

Celebrating 36 Years of Anti-Hunger Action

Actor Joshua Malina, and food expert Joan Nathan baked a birthday cake for MAZON’s 36th anniversary celebration

Long a linchpin of the anti-hunger movement in the United States and Israel, MAZON celebrated our 36th anniversary of anti-hunger action in June. Actor Joshua Malina, a cast member of Scandal and The West Wing, baked MAZON’s 36th birthday cake alongside his daughter Isabel and Joan Nathan, a Jewish food expert and columnist for The New York Times.

Though joyous, MAZON’s 36th anniversary coincides with the exacerbated hunger crisis in the United States from the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people in America facing food insecurity has doubled from 40 million pre-pandemic to reach 80 million. Our anti-hunger work, rooted in Jewish values to work for social justice, focuses on changing policies to ensure that the most vulnerable have enough food to eat.

Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky, chair of MAZON’s Board of Directors, greeted our community of virtual attendees with a call to action. “Thirty-six is an important number in Judaism,” he said. “Double chai—double the numerical value of the Hebrew word for life: chai. That number should cause all of us to ask the question of what we can accomplish in our one lifetime: How will this world be a better place because I lived in it? Perhaps our work with and support for MAZON can be part of the answer.”

We were then virtually welcomed into the kitchens of actor Joshua Malina and Jewish food expert Joan Nathan.

“The West Wing is a ten-minute drive from my house,” said Nathan.

“I spent a lot of time pretending to be in D.C., it’s nice to meet someone who’s actually from D.C.,” Malina said.

Nathan began coaching Malina and his daughter on preparing our cake, a Roman ricotta cheese crostata.

“What the French like to call ‘mise-en-place’, as a Jew I like to call ‘mise-en-plotz’ if I don’t have anything prepared correctly,” Malina said.

As the cheesecake baked, Malina and Nathan discussed MAZON’s mission to end hunger.

“I like the fact that MAZON is an organization for everybody,” Nathan said.

“I like the fact that it has a Jewish inspiration for justice but works against food insecurity on behalf of people who are food insecure in Israel and the United States, regardless of religion and denomination or any other way of categorizing people,” Malina responded. “While we’re celebrating food and making this incredible recipe, people should note that there was already a pre-pandemic horrible situation in the United States. We appreciate everyone’s support of MAZON, and everyone who works at MAZON, for their work fighting the root of food insecurity.”

After Malina and Nathan finished baking the cake, chef and television personality Gail Simmons toasted to our double-chai birthday.

“As part of the Jewish community, we all know that food is so much more than just calories. Food is how we express our identity, tell our stories. It’s how we celebrate milestones and holidays—it’s part of who we are and it’s in our souls,” Simmons said. “On this Double Chai birthday, let’s raise our glass and make a life-affirming toast to MAZON. Let’s make a toast to 36 years of MAZON building an anti-hunger movement in America. Let’s raise a glass to MAZON’s 36 years of challenging a system in the U.S. that allows anyone to go hungry. And let’s raise a glass to you—to joining [together] on this 36-year journey with a common cause: ending hunger in this land of plenty. L’Chaim, happy birthday MAZON!”

Abby J. Leibman, President and CEO, concluded our 36th birthday event, reflecting on the evening and thanking everyone for their support:

“Even as we enjoy this evening together, we understand that we have made a commitment to those who could not be a part of this kind of celebration because they are struggling. They are vulnerable, they are food insecure, and they too deserve to be able to celebrate. And with your help and your support, MAZON will be able to continue to fight for them to get the kind of stability in their lives to not only survive, but to thrive. On behalf of all of them and all of us, thank you for being a part of our 36th anniversary.”

The celebration continues! 

Though MAZON celebrated its 36th anniversary last week, MAZON supporters can still contribute to the fight against the injustice of hunger in the United States and Israel by donating to receive MAZON’s Celebration Cookbook.

The cookbook includes the recipe for MAZON’s 36th birthday cake — Joan Nathan’s Roman Ricotta Cheese Crostata — in addition to recipes from Gail Simmons, Maneet Chauhan, Michael Twitty, Einat Admony, Adeena Sussman, Gale Gand, Vivian Ku and many others.

Contributing to MAZON supports the organization’s work that has made a real difference for the millions of people across the United States and Israel facing food insecurity. Supporting MAZON supports:

  • Over $76.8 million, distributed across the United States, to build the anti-hunger movement; and
  • Over $6.4 million to grow the anti-hunger movement in Israel.

Addressing the injustice of hunger and the vast scale of food insecurity requires changing the systems and policies that allow it to continue. Celebrate MAZON’s 36th anniversary by sustaining Jewish anti-hunger efforts for people of all backgrounds. Donate to MAZON so that the next 36 years bring us closer to the day when no one experiences the pangs of hunger in a land of plenty.

It’s not too late! If you still want to join the celebration, make a gift of $180 today and we will send you a copy of The Celebration Cookbook in recognition of your essential partnership in our work.