Chabad of Park City’s Rabbi Yudi Steiger is thinking about those who are homebound this Thanksgiving due the coronavirus pandemic.
This is why he is seeking volunteers to deliver Thanksgiving dinners, nominate a family that is in need of a dinner or sponsor a family or multiple families to receive Thanksgiving dinners.
Individual dinners cost $36, and people can choose to sponsor as many families as they would like, according to Steiger.
Community members who are interested in doing any of these things for the Chabad Park City’s Thanksgiving Project can fill out a volunteer form by visiting jewishparkcity.com/thanks or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Already the response of those who want to be part of the Thanksgiving Project has been incredible,” Steiger said. “It’s been very encouraging to see the community wanting to help.”
The Thanksgiving Project’s concept evolved from what Chabad Park City did in the early weeks of COVID-19.
“The pandemic began in March, and we celebrated Passover at the beginning of April,” Steiger said. “Since the pandemic kept a lot of people home, it was the first Passover for many to spend alone.”
At that time, many local Jewish families didn’t have the proper symbolic foods that are traditionally prepared for the Passover Seder plate, nor did they know how to conduct a proper Seder, a ritual that retells the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt, according to the rabbi.
“So, we conducted a Zoom class for the Seder, and also distributed Seder-to-go kits to many members of the community,” he said.
The kits contained a prepared dinner and everything a family needed to hold a proper Seder, Steiger said.
“We immediately saw the appreciation and felt an overwhelming positive response,” he said. “And it was brought up by many that we should continue to do things such as this.”
So Chabad of Park City began distributing Shabbat bags that would help community members celebrate the Jewish sabbath at home. And the concept continued through the High Holy Days — Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, Steiger said
“Now we have Thanksgiving coming up,” he said. “So we decided to do what we did before, but do it with Thanksgiving dinners.”
Thanksgiving is a special time for the Jewish community, Steiger said.
“It is important for us to express our thanks to God and be appreciative for all that we have, even if we are in this challenging time,” he said. “One of the greatest ways of showing our gratitude to God is by caring for those who have less than us.”
Showing thankfulness is also a cornerstone of Judaism, according to Steiger.
“We start our day by giving thanks when we wake up by reciting the Modeh Ani prayer which thanks God for another day,” he said. “In connection to that, we have another prayer in which we accept upon ourselves to love every human being as we love ourselves. That’s why we felt it was crucial to do something that will benefit them.”