Debra Steinbuch — How You Help
How You Help: Meet Moran: A Supermarket Where You Can Get Tomatoes, Bread, and a Community
I love this story – it speaks to me. It motivates me and makes me proud to know we are helping Israelis in places like Arad (a caring, community mined Israeli city not unlike Cincinnati). Through our partnership with the Jewish Agency our Federation campaign dollars have a real impact in the lives of real people in ways we often don’t imagine. If you support our mission to repair the world and lift up the vulnerable, I hope you will share this story. —Marty Hiudt, Jewish Federation Board
Moran Yifrah Aiges is helping vulnerable Israelis in her hometown, Arad, Israel.
My husband and I both grew up in Arad, and decided to move here when our two sons were born, so we could raise them here. Arad is precious to us, and we are very active in the town, working with other residents to improve the quality of life here.
I established a group in Arad called the Female Founders Group, comprised of mothers who work to solve the city’s social programs. Discussions in the group about the high cost of living led to discussions about opening a cooperative store.
We looked into various frameworks for starting a cooperative, but it was our meetings with The Jewish Agency people that most impressed us and was most aligned with our goals. With their guidance and support, in February of 2016 we opened a branch of their Food Co-operative Network, Tzarchaniyat Ha’Ir (“City Mart”).
There are many reasons we set up the cooperative. One, the high prices in the supermarkets because of lack of competition and because of the costs of getting products to the periphery. Two, the desire for our money to go back to the community, rather than into the pockets of tycoons. Three, it is a way to support other local businesses, for example the champignon mushrooms in our store come from a mushroom nursery right here in Arad. Four, it shows that when a community unites, we can create more purchasing power and get better prices. Fifth, we could adapt the store’s products to the needs of Arad. For example, residents here very much want more organic and healthy products, and now we can provide that. And sixth, the Jewish Agency model includes a platform for community events so people have reasons to come to the store other than just shopping.
No one understands how much people in Arad love to volunteer. The city has a municipal volunteer coordinator, because so many people want to volunteer for things. Even people who don’t shop at the store want to volunteer at it. People want their children to come volunteer, in addition to the two hours a month that members of the cooperative are required. Some people come here and sign up to volunteer before they even buy anything.
As soon as we opened, people came in droves to become members. So far, we have 500 member families. That’s around 8-10% of the population of Arad.
We’re still in the initial stages of this project, and we are learning as we go along. We’re fine-tuning the range of products, and are trying to attract institutional customers such as community centers, the municipality, and a local hotel.
So, the store is our way, as mothers and residents of Arad, to help and support our neighbors so they can help themselves, providing better products at better prices, and turning the profits back into the community.
The Jewish Agency for Israel is one of over fifty programs and agencies funded in part by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati.
The Jewish Federation of Cincinnati: We look at the whole picture, taking into account the diverse needs of the entire community. Together we can do almost anything.
Thanks to you and the help of our partner agencies, Moran was able to create—and is now able to shop at—a supermarket that supports her entire community.