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December 25. 2013 11:07PM

Jewish, Muslim volunteers serve meals to those in need


Volunteers prepare Christmas dinner Wednesday in the kitchen at New Horizons in Manchester. TED SIEFER/UNION LEADER 

MANCHESTER — Jewish and Muslim volunteers in the Manchester area teamed up on Christmas to serve meals to the needy and public safety workers.

The event has been put on by the men’s group at Temple Adath Yeshurun for 30 years, but recently other organizations have gotten involved, including Temple Israel and the Islamic Society of Greater Manchester.

Sol Rockenmacher, a longtime member of the Adath Yeshurun Brotherhood, said serving the meals was a way to help Christians on their holiest day. “It’s part of what we call our Christmas mitzvah,” Rockenmacher said, using the Hebrew word for good deed. “It’s a way to help our Christian friends so they can have time off, if that’s available to them.”

The volunteers delivered meals to hospitals and police and fire stations on Christmas eve and during the day.

But the center of the volunteers’ activities was the New Horizons for New Hampshire shelter and soup kitchen in downtown Manchester, where they prepared holiday meals for the homeless and the needy. During the afternoon Wednesday, more than a dozen volunteers were crowded into the kitchen preparing squash and potatoes for the Christmas dinner. The dishes would be part of a meal that would include chicken with stuffing, mashed potatoes, string beans and pie.

The work was led by George Bruno, the prominent local attorney and former ambassador to Belize.

“It’s about coming together in fellowship,” said Bruno, who is also a member of the Adath Yeshurun Brotherhood. “It’s part of our service to our community.”In addition to the Christmas dinner, the volunteers served meals on Christmas Eve and a lunch during the day. Salaam Odeh, a member of the Islamic Society of Greater Manchester, was helping to prepare the meal with her three school-age kids. “It’s extremely important for me and my family,” Odeh said. “As Muslims, we believe in Jesus Christ. I wanted to make this as special for the homeless as can be. At the same time, for people who work here, it’s a chance for them to be home and celebrate Christmas with their families, since we don’t celebrate Christmas.”Paul Gladstone, a temple member, had a simple explanation for why he got involved. “I just enjoy doing it,” he said. “It’s a good, good feeling.”

tsiefer@unionleader.com


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