Executive director, Masbia
Jun 16, 2022
The Masbia soup kitchen network, which has locations in Boro Park and Flatbush in Brooklyn and Rego Park in Queens, is unique in several ways: Its outposts are set up like restaurants, complete with menus and volunteer waiters. A decent amount of the food is procured from farmers markets and community supported agriculture, or CSA, organizations. And the kitchens offer take-home packages with enough food to help families in need get through an entire week.
And because it was founded in 2005 by two Orthodox Jews, its food is also all kosher.
Alexander Rapaport, Masbia’s executive director and the grandson of Holocaust survivors, is the soup kitchen’s public face; he’s constantly talking to the press about the organization’s initiatives. Masbia has for years reached out to help in the face of crises well beyond Brooklyn — a borough that was itself hungry for relief even before the Covid-19 pandemic, which greatly exacerbated income and food insecurity.
After the Bronx fire that killed 17 in January, Rapaport and Masbia volunteers donated food to some who escaped the blaze — and also helped them buy new clothes and toiletries at Target. After deadly tornadoes killed dozens and left many more without power in Kentucky last winter, Rapaport and his team traveled to the scene with food. And in the fall, they showed up in New Jersey to bring nourishment to Afghan refugees.
Back home in Brooklyn, Masbia serves thousands of dinners per week at each soup kitchen location and over a million per year in total. The take-home packages alone account for about 50,000 pounds of food each week.
As Rapaport said in the wake of the Bronx fire, the work of Masbia — which in Hebrew means “to satiate” — is about more than feeding people.
“America is a mosaic of goodness, people coming together all the time and trying to make it whole for the people who are broken,” he said. “That’s all that we try to do.”