A Christmas mitzvah

| 22 Feb 2012 | 03:33

    Monroe Temple volunteers will again plan, prepare and serve Christmas dinner at Our Father’s Kitchen MONROE - A Christmas day pineapple glazed ham dinner will be prepared and served by members of the Monroe Temple at Our Father’s Kitchen, the soup kitchen serving the area and based at Sacred Heart Chapel on Stage Road in Monroe. Temple volunteers have created a menu they feel will help create a festive holiday atmosphere for those who are facing financial challenges of putting food on the table in their homes and are in need of a fresh, homecooked meal. For a short period of time on Christmas day, they hope, people coping with such hardships can have a bit of fun, relaxation and respite from their troubles. This year, Christmas day falls on a Saturday - which is also the Jewish Sabbath. “We talked about this with our rabbi,” said Betsy Utnick, chair of the temple’s social action committee. “The rabbi said he could think of no greater way to spend the Sabbath than feeding the hungry. For some people who are having tough times, this is one meal they don’t have to pay for.” Dinner for 200 Utnick also stressed that it’s the temple’s honor to offer the many dedicated Christian soup kitchen volunteers a “day off” so they can share the holiday with their families at home. “We know how hard they work,” said Utnick, adding regular soup kitchen volunteers include temple members. “We wanted them to stay home with their families and we wanted to step in so they can be with their families for the holiday. We want to have a long-standing relationship with the kitchen.” From 1 to 4 p.m., a full dinner featuring ham, yams, vegetables, fruit salad, mixed greens, pudding, homebaked goods and beverages will be served. The community has been extremely generous in its response to a request for items for the dinner, Utnick said, though the group is still seeking a few things. With a week left until the dinner, she suggested anyone who wanted to assist could best help with a cash contribution. “It’s more ideal to give cash,” she said. “We can make the money go further.” Presents for children, too Other groups are helping too, such as the Monroe Girl Scouts, who are making cookie plates so each family can take home cookies. Congregation Eitz Chaim in Monroe is creating fresh fruit baskets for each family to take home as well. “Fresh fruit is a luxury they (soup kitchen patrons) may not normally spend money on,” added Utnick. There will also be presents for children who attend, too. A 12-year-old Washingtonville girl, who is a member of the temple and working on her community service requirements for her forthcoming Bat Mitzvah, has collected 200 pairs of new pajamas in various sizes as well as a large supply of children’s books. They will be packaged up early next week in time for gift giving to all children attending the dinner. “We want this to be a great Christmas Day dinner,” said Utnick. “Not everything we do is in-house (for the Monroe Temple community) or for Jewish causes. The rabbi says that we are not charged with just taking care of the Jewish community. We take care of the entire community. People are hungry and they need to be fed.” We want this to be a great Christmas day dinner. The rabbi says that we are not charged with just taking care of the Jewish community. We take care of the entire community. People are hungry and they need to be fed.” Betsy Utnick, chair of the Monroe Temple’s social action committee Dinner is served The second annual Christmas dinner at Our Father’s Kitchen, prepared and served by members of the Monroe Temple, will be held on Christmas Day from 1 to 4 p.m. Anyone who is in need of a hot meal is welcome. Organizers are planning for 200 people to attend, a 100 percent increase over 2009. Reservations are requested by calling the Sacred Heart Parish Outreach Program at 783-7840. However, no one will be turned away. Can you help? Recently, a list was distributed within the community of items needed to make the dinner a reality and just about all those items have been donated. However, a few things are still needed: 200 bottles of water Christmas napkins Christmas paper plates Heavy duty aluminum foil 30 gallons of apple cider Paper towels If you can help, call 783-7840.