We received a call from a NJ Public TV news reporter today asking if the Jewish community is doing anything to help people in need who celebrate Christmas – for a story on tonight’s news. Working on a tight deadline, she needed to know within about an hour where to go to film footage and an interview.
Federation is always interested in connecting and inspiring people to do good in the world, and sharing stories that raise awareness of and participation in community relations, so I put my news producer hat on and began making calls.
Mind you, many temple and Jewish agency offices are operating with partial staff today, Christmas Eve, and many people are away on vacation this week. And again, I had very little time to reach people. Nonetheless, the response I got spoke volumes:
Every one of the seven synagogues I reached had conducted food drives, gift drives, and/or warm winter coat (and hat, glove and scarf) drives for interfaith neighbors, veterans, shelters, and food banks.
Several synagogues were convening volunteers to go and serve Christmas meals at neighboring churches and warming centers.
One synagogue was hosting a special overnight shelter with Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas morning breakfast for those who are homeless.
Whether, or which part of, our Jewish community story makes it on air, this is a story worth sharing, a story to ground us in our humanity, a story of tikkun olam.
Even if you are not volunteering on behalf of interfaith neighbors at Christmas; even if you are not fazed by the season’s ubiquity of good will messages; even if you never find yourself involuntarily humming along to a Christmas song in the supermarket; even if the holiday has no place in your Jewish soul, psyche, and sensibilities… even if The Christmas Story is antithetical to your beliefs... I hope you agree that the Christmas story I dug up this morning -- neighbors caring for neighbors -- is something to celebrate.
I can get behind peace on earth and good will towards all. How about you?
Lisa Karasic, Chief Marketing Officer
To get involved in the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) interfaith relations work, please learn more.