On Thanksgiving, No One Should Be Left Out In the Cold

I think most of us are familiar with Temple Sholom’s regular Monday Meal, which serves 56 people a hot meal every Monday.  It’s a terrific mitzvah which fills a great need in our community.  But Pete and Amy Kadens thought beyond that – they thought big!

Pete and Amy sponsor the Thanksgiving Monday Meal, and it was also their brainchild.  “I’ve been involved with the homeless for many years,“ Pete said.  “Seeing 56 people being served a hot meal every Monday at the Temple is great.  But I thought, no one should be left out in the cold on Thanksgiving.”  He approached Temple staff and clergy and proposed an expanded Thanksgiving Monday Meal.  The response could not have been more enthusiastic, and the Thanksgiving Monday Meal Mitzvah is the result.  The Kadens sponsor everything from food and supplies to extra security, Temple staffing and outreach, and a Thanksgiving feast for 150 people is the result.

Monday, November 25 was the fifth year for this wonderful event.   Buzzing with activity, the room was filled with people working hard at a variety of tasks, from decorating tables to filling salad bowls and carefully placing salt and pepper shakers.  Assembly lines ready for soup and entrée courses were being organized.  A table full of children (who appeared to be supervising Rabbi Conover’s efforts!) was making table number cards.  Inside the kitchen, soup was bubbling on the stove, stuffing was being prepared, and the dishwasher was already running full steam.  The level of energy and depth of preparation rivaled any
restaurant kitchen.

And what could be better than some music with dinner?  At the stage, a 15 piece band was setting up.  Not just any band, Gentlemen of Leisure, who have entertained at, among many other events, the Governor’s Ball, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s and Michael Jordan’s birthday celebrations and, charmingly, at Pete and Amy’s wedding, performed throughout the meal. This was a big deal! http://www.gentlemenofleisureband.com

I took some photos and talked with people, and mainly tried to stay out of the way.  I received so many wonderful insights from volunteers – too many to write about in one blog post – so please look for my next blog highlighting volunteer stories.  The stories were as varied as the people themselves, but the one thing they all have in common is the gratitude everyone feels to take part in this tikkun olam effort.

At 4:30, I left the bright, warm enclosure of the festively-decorated room and ventured outside.  The line of people waiting stretched around the block, a full hour before the meal was to begin.  And the mood outside was also festive, with people chatting and laughing – in the dark, in the cold.  I was surprised, but I shouldn’t have been.  Our guests are always gracious and happy.

And that’s the thing everyone knows about working the Monday Meal.  It feeds our souls.

Volunteers, I want to list everyone’s name, but I know I’m missing some.  If I’ve missed your name or someone you know, please email me at lisa.a.millman@gmail.com.  I’ll feature their names in my follow up post.   Thank you, everyone!

Pete and Amy, Eric, Ken, Eden, Russ, Ted, Robby and Andrew

Shoshanah, Kevin G. and Lisa K., Eddie and Melanie
Debbie, Marla, Roberta and Rudy
JB, Tony and Marcos
Mike and his CPD crew
Pam and Yonah
Nona, Charlene, Debra, Helène, Monroe, Alan and Edina
Richard, Jackie, Aaron, Abigail, Eleanor and Anna
Beth Ann, Melva, Manny, Claudia and Gigi
Megan and Hannah, Harold and Lynn, Lanie and Sari
Madison, Michael and Sheryl, Tracy, Judith, Shane and Emily
Brad, Mary and Sophie, Amy, Cole, Kathy, Debi
Olivia, Sydney and Skylar, Skye and Bizzy

Lisa Millman is a Board Member of the Temple Sholom Sisterhood