Jewish Federation Continues to Impact the Community Through Thanksgiving Mitzvah Project

As a part of Women’s Philanthropy’s Thanksgiving Mitzvah Project, women help pack bags to make full Thanksgiving meals to give to those in need.

Photo provided by the Jewish Federation


Bringing food and good cheer to families in need around the Thanksgiving holiday is part of the mission for women of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. This fall, they donated and packaged 165 meals for clients of the Jewish Family Service Heldman Family Food Pantry, located at Jewish Family Service Barbash Family Vital Support Center in Clifton, through their Thanksgiving Mitzvah Project – more than double their efforts when they started six years ago. And they’re seeing the impact in the community.

“Some of our clients have tears in their eyes when they see that they will be able to feed their families this holiday season because of the generosity of others,” said Sandee Golden, Food Pantry and Volunteer Manager at Jewish Family Service Cincinnati.

While not all of the pantry’s clients are Jewish, the food pantry is the only kosher pantry in Cincinnati, Golden said. For that reason, the staff and volunteers work hard to make sure Orthodox families who follow dietary restrictions that can make it even harder to put food on the table get a kosher Thanksgiving meal.

“As Jews, we know how important it is to come together and help people in need, whether they are Jewish or not,” said event chair Lisa Mezibov. She and her husband became more involved in the Jewish Federation after she participated in the Thanksgiving Mitzvah Project three years ago. “I can’t imagine not attending each year.”

Mezibov said she took a leadership role this year because the event “brings women together to strengthen the lives of others.” She did not grow up Jewish but said that social action and a commitment to helping others are some of the things that drew her to the religion and to the Jewish Federation.

“When I converted to Judaism, I made a promise to serve others in need in any way that I could,” she said.

Patti Heldman, Vice Chair of Women’s Philanthropy and member of the family for whom the food pantry was named, was moved.

“I’m honored to be part of this feel-good event, which helps people who are food insecure,” she said. “Meeting new people and working together made it even more fun by bringing a community of women together through fellowship and service to others.”

Heldman was touched by the food donations made by women in Cincinnati’s Jewish community, some of whom could not be at the event.

“It’s powerful to see women in our community so willing to donate food to those in need,” she said. “Our lives are so often centered around food and family meals, so creating a way for families to celebrate this American holiday together really resonates with our community.”

Not only did the Thanksgiving Mitzvah event inspire Heldman to participate again next year, she looks forward to volunteering at the food pantry again soon and being an active leader of this event next year.

“It was an honor for me to volunteer with our community at the food pantry this fall,” Heldman said. “I’m inspired to do more, and I hope others are, too.”


The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati is located at 8499 Ridge Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236. For more information, call 513.985.1500 or visit