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Thornhill chairperson passionate about Passover mission

Largest Passover drive in country gearing up
March 17, 2015
By Simone Joseph

Glenda Ephron Cooper’s fondest memories of Passover revolve around her large family get-togethers.

The Thornhill woman had 24 first cousins.

“Our Seders were filled with 70 people. The noise, the singing, the laughter and all the traditional foods, is something that stays with me forever. I remember going through the Haggadah, and the relief that all of us kids felt when we were allowed to eat. The singing at the end was always fun and spontaneous,” she said.

Ephron Cooper passionately believes everyone should be able to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Passover - regardless of his or her financial situation.

“People don’t ever realize there’s a lot of people who don’t have money ... They think you are Jewish, you must have money,” said Ephron Cooper, chairperson of the National Council of Jewish Women of Canada Toronto section’s Passover Food Drive for the second year.

Poverty in the Jewish community has increased by two per cent since last year - from 11 per cent to 13 per cent, Ephron Cooper said, pointing to statistics from the Greater Jewish Federation and Statistics Canada.

The Jewish poverty rate is climbing across the country, according to the UIA’s 2011 National Household Survey. There are 57,195 Jews living below the poverty line, which translates to 14.6 per cent of Canada’s Jews. In 2001, the Jewish poverty rate was 13.6 per cent.

About one in seven Jews in Canada is economically disadvantaged.

The Jewish community has about the same level of poverty as the total population in this country. The overall Canadian population has a 14.8% poverty rate, compared to 14.6% for the Jewish population. (Go to to see the full survey).

So, the number of Passover donation boxes the organization needs delivered has increased by about 100, explained Ephron Cooper.

Recipients are found through social services agencies, she said.

This year’s drive has some new features, including a new website -

Need is certainly not concentrated in Toronto, she pointed out, adding there are plenty of needy families north of the city.

“There is a ton in York Region. There is a lot of social housing in Richmond Hill.”

Ephron Cooper is passionate about her mission.

“It is getting awareness. It is important people know about the drive. Whatever you can give … every penny counts.”

Monetary donations allow drive organizers to buy 90 per cent of all of the Kosher for Passover food at wholesale prices. Food collected through schools, synagogues and drop-off boxes only meets 10 per cent of the needs of the drive. Every donation box has identical items.

The campaign starts this week and ends April 24 and is the largest Passover food drive in Canada, Ephron Cooper said.

Drivers are still needed to deliver boxes and volunteers are also needed to pack boxes. The delivery date is March 29 and drivers are needed from 8:30 a.m. to noon.

If you plan to donate food, make sure it is kosher for Passover. Call 416-633-5100 for more information.

Jews celebrate Passover from the sunset of Friday, April 3 until Friday, April 10.

Jewish people around the world celebrate Passover as a commemoration of their liberation by God from slavery in Egypt and their freedom as a nation under the leadership of Moses.

Passover commemorates the story of the Exodus as described in the Hebrew Bible, especially in the Book of Exodus in which the Israelites were freed from slavery.

To donate or participate in the food drive, E-mail or phone 416-633-5100 or go to