Give the Gift of Love

1216hanukapennkidHanukkah – a holiday filled love, joy, happiness, abundance, delicious food and thoughtful gifts, and precious time spent with loved ones. So many of us embrace this time of year, lighting candles, eating latkes, playing dreidels and enjoying donuts. We get together for dinners—brisket and latkes, donuts for dessert and nibble those chocolate coins while spinning dreidels. What a wonderful time of year!

Sadly, so many people lack the resources to celebrate this way. They are not sure whether or not they’ll have money to pay rent at the end of the month. There’s very little left for gifts, latke ingredients, dreidels, donuts or chocolate gelt and, in fact, they live with “hunger insecurity.” This is true in Orange County, California, throughout our state and nation, beyond our borders, and across the world.

Some people are aging, living on fixed incomes—the price of food and luxuries keeps rising, while their income remains stable. Others live on Social Security—not enough to pay rent, health costs, food and to celebrate holidays. Some people can’t find jobs that pay enough for their families to live on. It’s cold, shelter and clothes need to be priorities, whatever’s left will cover food. Still others are unable to find employment, they lack the education or qualifications, they are marginalized from society for some mistake they’ve made in the past, for the way they look or for who their family is. These people struggle daily with issues of “food insecurity.” In fact, one out of every five children in Orange County, California does not know whether they will eat three meals today.

I encourage you to volunteer at a soup kitchen, shelter, or any of the wonderful places feeding those on the margins. Take your older children and family members—it is a humbling experience to realize we are all same. Some of us just don’t have money for food. I invite you to visit the Mazon Truck at University Synagogue on the weekend of December 11 – December 14, 2016. Mazon is the “Jewish response to hunger” and will be highlighting the food insecurity experience in an effort to educate and remind us that what most of us take fore granted is a luxury for many others.

Please RSVP to www.eventbrite.com/e/this-is-hunger-southern-ca-university-synagogue-irvine-tickets-28929805828?aff=ehomecard to schedule time to visit the Mazon truck or Someone Cares Food Kitchen at (949) 548-8861 to schedule time to serve meals to the hungry.

Sue Penn, the Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue, is known for being an innovative and creative educator. Sue sits on the National Board of the Reconstructionist Educators of North America and believes in personalizing every child’s education since no two children are the same.

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