Temple Israel continues tradition of volunteering on Christmas

by | Feb 5, 2016 | Other News

In December, the local Jewish community continued its 20-year tradition of bringing good cheer—and good food—to needy people on Christmas.

Nineteen people cooked and served dinner to homeless families at Haven House, a shelter operated by ForKids in Norfolk.

The tradition began in the early ‘90s, according to Lois Einhorn, the longtime coordinator of the Christmas project. It was launched as Project Ahavah by the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater, which solicited Jewish volunteers to provide Christmas dinner to area homeless and needy people.

Early on, volunteers served at the Queen Street Baptist Church in downtown Norfolk. A few years later, the federation asked them to help at The Dwelling Place in Norfolk. Since the closing of the Dwelling Place, Jewish volunteers have helped ForKids during Christmas.

Seventeen members of Temple Israel volunteered at Haven House this year: Wendy Brodsky, Lois and Barry Einhorn, Ellie and Paul Lipkin, Ted Kruger, Jody Mazur and David Banyai, Nancy Tucker and Brandon Metheny, Beverlee and Cantor Larry Tiger and Jennifer Peters, and Mary Ann, Phil, Jacob and Benjamin Walzer.

In addition, Beth Gross and Nancy Bangel, members of Congregation Beth El, provided desserts, as they have for many years. The holiday dinner consisted of turkey, sweet potato casserole, stuffing and roasted vegetables.

The residents of Haven House also benefited from the expertise of the volunteers: David Banyai, a chef at the Town Point Club, cooked one of the turkeys, and Cantor Larry and Beverlee Tiger and Jennifer Peters serenaded them with Christmas carols.

“Our Christmas-season humanitarianism is a testimonial to our American-Jewish identity. One of the benefits of the wise American policy of separation of Church and State is that people of different faith communities have the freedom to interact as equal partners in the public square, joining forces to mend the world,” says Rabbi Michael Panitz of Temple Israel.