By Erin Wolfman May, Communications Director, Temple Israel, Nov 27, 2019
Each year, Temple Israel’s Thanksgiving Dinner for Those in Need serves more than 400-500 guests who come to Temple Israel through social service agency referrals. The goal is to ensure that every person who attends receives a comforting holiday meal, wonderful service, and warm fellowship with a so many others who deserve to enjoy the Thanksgiving tradition. This year’s event commemorated the 33rd anniversary of the dinner.
This event serves St. Louisans that would otherwise not have a Thanksgiving dinner and is completely free to attend. Temple Israel reaches out to and receives referrals in advance from social service organizations, senior’s communities, etc.
This year’s 33rd annual event was co-chaired by Temple members Sarah Falkoff and Mark Biernacki. About 250 volunteers make this event possible including Temple board members, staff, volunteers from around the community, local Boy Scout Troop 11, and teens ages 13 and up. The volunteers set tables, place festive decorations, carve turkeys, make mounds of mashed potatoes and side dishes, bake pumpkin pies, greet guests, served food, refilled beverages, and box up to go containers with leftovers for each attendee to take with them. The Ladue Strolling Strings provide live music throughout the evening for guests to enjoy throughout the meal. This year, Temple Israel is also hosted its 3rd annual Mitzvah Market, a free shop that gives Thanksgiving Dinner guests winter coats to keep them warm throughout the season.
WHY THIS PARTICULAR DINNER IS UNIQUE:
Though there are other St. Louis area nonprofits and religious institutions that serve Thanksgiving dinner to those in need within the community at large, Temple Israel’s Thanksgiving dinner story originated from an act of kindness that transcended political and religious affiliation during WWII.
In 1935, a non-Jewish German national attending Washington University in St. Louis, received a letter from the German military to “report to duty”. Not interested in returning to Germany to join the Nazi army, Ernest Wolf was informed that he could seek asylum in Mexico. The only caveat was that he didn’t have the financial means at the time to flee.
Wolf went door to door along Kingshighway, asking leaders at religious institutions of many creeds and denominations, for the money to fund his emigration. Told “no” by all, his final stop was at Congregation Temple Israel. Rabbi Ferdinand M. Isserman heard his plea and gave Wolf $300, ensuring his safe passage to Mexico to evade the Nazis.
Wolf spent the entirety of WWII in Mexico.
In 1986, Temple Israel received a check for $50,000 and a note from Wolf asking for the Temple to “do good things” with the money. Rabbi Alvan D. Rubin, Senior Rabbi at the time, decided to pay it forward and use Wolf’s gift to start a Thanksgiving dinner for those in need, which has now become an annual event serving more than 400 guests each year.
In mid-2016, the Temple Israel Thanksgiving Fund was launched, in memory of Margy and Jake Bromberg. This gift, coupled with other generous donations from The Nathan Kahn-Ernestine Kahn-Charles Kahn Foundation, the Fox Family Foundation, the Kuhn Foundation, Stanley & Lucy Lopata Foundation, the Brasch Family Foundation, two anonymous gifts, and donations from community members and congregants allow the Temple to continue the Thanksgiving Dinner for Those in Need for another year.
“Our family has volunteered for Temple Israel’s Thanksgiving Dinner for as long as I can remember. Even when my three daughters were little, it was something they looked forward to, and now that they are grown and live out of town, they fly back home when possible to be a part of this family tradition. There is nothing more special and rewarding than seeing the look on our guests’ faces as they enjoy the evening; they are so appreciative… it makes it so worthwhile!”
-Liz Weinstein, longtime volunteer
Congregation Temple Israel
#1 Rabbi Alvan D. Rubin Drive, St. Louis, Missouri 63141
ABOUT TEMPLE ISRAEL:
Congregation Temple Israel is a caring, inclusive community committed to living Reform Judaism and participating in the sacred destiny of the Jewish people and Israel through education, worship, and repair of the world. We welcome and embrace individuals and families from all backgrounds. Wherever you may be along your Jewish journey, there is a place for you at Temple Israel. For more information, visit www.ti-stl.org.
逾250位义工参与 招待超过500位耆老 爱心感恩晚餐
圣路易犹太教会 寒冬送温暖 爱心满人间
今年的晚餐由教友Sarah Falkoff及Mark Biernacki联合主持，250余位义工来自教会、学校、童子军第11团和社区各族裔，Ladue高中Strolling Strings交响乐团并做弦乐现场演奏。
追溯历史，犹太教会感恩节源自于第二次世界大战。1935年，当时一位非犹太裔德国学生Ernest Wolf收到德国征兵令，命令他回国参战。Wolf非常不愿意回国去加入纳粹，但得知逃到墨西哥政治庇护可以避免回国。由于Wolf当时没有钱逃到墨西哥，于是他沿着Kingshighway挨家挨户向教会及社区领袖询问，希望能讨到足够的逃亡经费，可是答案全是「没有」，最后他到了现在的犹太教会，当时的拉比Rabbi Ferdinand M. Isserman听到了他的恳求，于是给了Wolf三百美金，资助他安全抵达墨西哥，逃脱纳粹。
1986年，犹太教会突然收到一张美金5万元的支票及Wolf的一封信，请犹太教会用这笔钱「做好事」，当时的拉比Rabbi Alvan D. Rubin决定用这笔钱开始感恩晚餐，提供予社区有需要的人，年复一年，一直延续到今天现在这么大规模爱心感恩晚餐。这期间在2016年中期，犹太教会在教友慷慨捐赠下还成立了感恩基金，继续进行这项爱心感恩晚餐。