Mitzvot from the heart: Hannah Tennebaum

Hannah Tennebaum

Hannah Tennenbaum

Congregation B’nai Amoona

Hannah has often thought of becoming a veterinarian or a marine biologist, wanting to help animals all over the world, not just in the United States, but also in Africa, Antarctica and South America. So, last year when she and her father volunteered at the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry (HKJFP) and noticed the pet food shelves were empty, she knew she had to help. Being the empathetic girl she is and a  lover of animals, Hannah decided her mitzvah project would be a pet food drive. 

Daughter of Lisa Kodner and Michael Tennenbaum of Chesterfield, Hannah chose the HKJFP to support because, unlike other pet-centered organizations, they would accept all brands of pet food. Collection boxes were set up at B’nai Amoona and Parkway Central Middle School, where Hannah attends.She also included a note on her bat mitzvah RSVP reminding guests not to forget their donations.

On her first visit, Hannah learned how the food pantry operated. She was able to meet some of the regular volunteers and worked side by side with some of them. She did several different jobs while there such as separating produce, stocking shelves and washing the food bins. Hannah said that the food pantry does such good work, for both people and animals that she wants to volunteer there periodically. 

“It was very rewarding for me to work side by side with Hannah and be able to see her reaction to everything,” said her father. “The look on her face and conversations we had about volunteering there will be something I will always cherish.” 

Hannah loved doing her project. After it was over, she and her father went back and volunteered another time and stocked the shelves with all the food she had collected in three big boxes.

According to Judy Berkowitz, director of the food pantry, pets are so important to their families. Pet owners feel terrible when they can’t feed their cat or dog and sometimes will skip a meal just to give it to their pet. 

The food pantry doesn’t buy pet food — with two exceptions. The first was in July 2016 when it was fortunate to receive a $2,000 grant from the Red Rover Pet Food Pantry Assistance program. The HKJFP’s shelves are still stocked with the purchase they made. 

In January of this year the food pantry received a large donation of sample size packets of pet food from Solid Gold Pet, producers of natural and holistic dry foods, canned foods, treats, and supplements for both dogs and cats. Client families are permitted to take ten packs at a time.

Berkowitz said she doesn’t know if the food pantry will receive any funding in the future. There is always a need and it relies on the community including kids like Hannah.

The Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry, a program of Jewish Family & Children’s Service, provides food, personal care items and community resource referrals to help individuals and families through difficult times. The HKJFP provides food to an average of 7,000 people each month who would otherwise go hungry. To donate or for more information, please visit it’s web site at