Volunteers worked on Christmas Day to deliver 300 meals with cheerful cards to Melrose, Stoneham, Wakefield, Malden and Saugus residents.
Temple Beth Shalom of Melrose, Melrose Council on Aging and Early Harvest Diner of Wakefield worked to prepare and hand out free Christmas meals to those who are food insecure during the pandemic. Other organizations got involved, as did the Melrose Emergency Fund.
“It was a remarkable to have around 35 community volunteers and businesses come together to make this happen this year!” said committee member Emily Levine of Wakefield.
“During the fall as COVID cases continued to rise around the country, it became clear that the 33rd Annual Temple Beth Shalom Christmas Dinner, where we gather together with guests to create a community
Christmas experience, with warmth, food, Christmas Carols and more, would not be safe this year,” said Serena Brown, Temple Beth Shalom president. “The four of us [Liza Weinstein, Allison Leonard, Emily Levine and myself] have been working together on this dinner for several years and were determined to not let this tradition lapse – especially this year – when the need is even greater.”
The team explored potential partners for food preparation, resulting in working with Early Harvest Diner in Wakefield. Working with the Melrose Council on Aging, the team traditionally serves about 70 guests in person, but within a week of promoting that Temple Beth Shalom would be delivering meals reservations rose to 150 meals. “Thanks to additional fundraising from our community, and the generosity of the Melrose Emergency Fund, Melrose Council on Aging connected us to the Melrose Housing Authority and similar groups in our neighboring towns to provide 300 meals to people living in Melrose, Stoneham, Wakefield, Malden and Saugus.” said committee member Liza Weinstein of Melrose.
“While I hope we can celebrate together in person next year, we succeeded in spreading Christmas cheer and a strong sense of community coming together,” Brown said.
“Judaism has always focused on helping others. We talk often about the idea of tikkun olam, Repairing the World, doing what we can to make this world a better place,” said Rabbi Jessica Lowenthal. “There is a beautiful statement in our texts, ‘It is not your responsibility to finish the work of perfecting the world, but you are not free to desist from it either.’ When we gather together to help others, as TBS has done for 33 years, we are living our Jewish values.”