As a Jewish Community, we celebrate many holidays that are focused around food and dining together. We celebrated Passover “pandemic style” in April and next week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving “pandemic style.” For most of us that means planning a very quiet dinner that only includes the people currently living with us, no traveling to relatives’ homes this year, no Thanksgiving Day parade, no Football games, no, not this year…
Saying “not this year” to many of the traditions we have come to expect is not easy, but we are creating new ways to be together. We do not have to give up the familiar smells coming from the kitchen of apple cake and pumpkin pie, of sweet potatoes and roasting turkey. We can still take out our good dishes and set a festive table and we can add a computer screen to Zoom in smiling faces of our children and grandchildren who are spread out across the country. We can find ways to be together!
Speaking of traditions, Jewish tradition teaches us that we are required to feed the hungry and Thanksgiving is a perfect time to reach out to the community and serve those who are most in need. On this particular Thanksgiving, I am sending out Special Thanks to all of our KI Volunteers who organize, cook, wrap, email, package, shop, and distribute food so no one in our community goes without. And to our Cantor Amy Levy for her efforts to help raise money and organize these on-going programs.
As a Community at KI we have been engaged in “feeding the stranger” for many years now. As soon as the pandemic began, our HaMotzi and Caring Community Volunteers started worrying about how they were going to continue their efforts to help the food insecure. Of course, they found a way to do just that. You may have seen the photos of the contact-free weekly food distribution that took place over the summer, and most recently the donations and distribution of food for our Restock Your Pantry for our Cheltenham School families. Collections of food continue in our Tzedek Center throughout the year, as food insecurity just seems to increase.
Take a few minutes to look through these Jewish Texts and Values when you celebrate this Thanksgiving!
I am thankful to be a part of such a caring community!
Jewish Texts and Values
- If there is among you a poor person, one of your kin, in any of your towns within your land, which God gives you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against them, but you shall open your hand to them, and lend them sufficient for their needs, whatever they may be. (Deuteronomy 15:7-8)
- This is the fast I desire: to unlock fetters of wickedness, and untie the cords of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free; to break off every yoke. It is to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh. (Isaiah 58:7-8)
- When you are asked in the world to come, “What was your work?” and you answer: “I fed the hungry,” you will be told: “This is the gate of the Eternal, enter into it, you who have fed the hungry. (Midrash Psalms 18:17)
- When you give food to a hungry person, give your best and sweetest food. (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Issurei Mizbayach 7:11)
- Hunger is isolating; it may not and cannot be experienced vicariously. He who never felt hunger can never know its real effects, both tangible and intangible. Hunger defies imagination; it even defies memory. Hunger is felt only in the present. (Elie Wiesel)