Rivka Goldstein, the managing director of the Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry for the past six years, will retire from the pantry in July.

Food pantry manager Tamara Witkes will assume the role of pantry operations director and pantry volunteer Tracy Finkelstein Thomas will join the staff as office manager.

“My part in growing and developing the Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry into a respected and viable organization was truly the highlight of my career,” Goldstein said in a news release. “Personally, it was especially gratifying to assist so many in our community during the pandemic. I cherish the opportunity given me to rise to this unprecedented challenge. Working with an outstanding team, a dedicated lineup of 100 all-star volunteers, we did everything possible, including delivering to thousands door-to-door and conducting drive-thru distributions to meet the need. We were absolutely making a difference.’’

Food pantry director Devorah Alevsky, praised Goldstein.

“Rivka has been with the Kosher Food Pantry for six years, and during that time, oversaw tremendous growth in the number of clients served, volunteers engaged and dollars raised,” Alevsky said in the release. “As our dedicated and talented kosher food pantry managing director, her hard work and creativity brought us to where we are today, one of the leading food pantries in the Cleveland area.

“Chabad, at the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s directives, has always been at the forefront of helping the Jewish community both spiritually and materially. Therefore, an important component of the Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry is to also offer the holiday traditions and rituals such as blowing shofar on Rosh Hashanah, bringing Chanukah menorahs to each person, Mishloach manos and megillah readings, distributing yahrzeit candles and Jewish calendars to each of the senior buildings and shut-ins, enhancing the Jewish experience for all of our clients.”

The food pantry is recognized as one of the largest food relief agencies in Northeast Ohio. While the pantry typically serves over 4,000 people per month, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the pantry served more than 6,000 people per month. Its weekly distributions serve 250 area families and it provides bimonthly food deliveries to 1,300 seniors in 10 low-income apartment buildings, according to Alevsky.

“I look forward to working with our leadership to provide a smooth transition and to continue to serve those who depend on us,” Witkes said in the release. “Rivka leaves big shoes to fill and her amazing accomplishments will be a source of encouragement to all of us for years to come,”

Thomas said, “I personally volunteered with kosher food pantry and saw firsthand the wonderful work being done. I feel honored to be a part of this vital organization and look forward to contributing to its continued success.”

Goldstein will be recognized at a thank-you event at 7 p.m. June 22 at Waxman Chabad Center at 2479 S. Green Road in Beachwood.

To RSVP, email celebration@kosherfb.org or call Debi Slater at 440-724-0499.

Sammi Fremont is the Linda and Clifford Wolf Intern at the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company.

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