UJA-Federation and Catholic Charities Team Up Against Hunger rss
Around Thanksgiving and the December holidays, along with sharing meals with family and gifts with friends, New Yorkers of many religious backgrounds make it a tradition to help someone less fortunate than themselves. But what happens after the holidays are over?
At the distribution of Thanksgiving meals at the Kennedy Memorial Center in Harlem on November 20th, Catholic Charities and UJA-Federation announced the launch of the new Feeding Our Neighbors campaign that aims to address this issue.
“About a month after Christmas, things get tight again, it’s cold, all the generosity of Thanksgiving and Christmas has kind of faded away,” explained Cardinal Timothy Dolan to the folks who had filled the auditorium to receive food for a holiday meal. “So the Jewish family and the Catholic family, we’re going to try and pitch in and provide another million meals about a month after Christmas.”
UJA-Federation’s executive vice president & CEO, John S. Ruskay, also spoke to the importance of coming together in an interfaith effort to alleviate hunger in New York City. “The Cardinal and I have been chatting over a number of months: wouldn’t it be powerful for the Catholic community and the Jewish community [to] stand together on the issue of hunger?” he said.
“You know in Hebrew we say everyone is created b’tselem elokim, in the image of God,” Ruskay added. “That’s what this is about, making certain that every one of us, young and old, male and female, can maximize his or her possibility.”
In the coming months, as part of the campaign, UJA-Federation and Catholic Charities will also raise awareness in parishes and synagogues about food insuffiency and what people can do to help, hold collaborative volunteer events, and facilitate deliveries to food pantries.
After sharing a few more words with the crowd, Ruskay and the Cardinal donned aprons and handed out frozen turkeys to the people who made their way to the center.
The ecumenical project made so much sense to both men because they felt their respective religions contain mandates to care for one another’s neighbors, no matter their background. “We don’t ask people what their creed is, we don’t ask people where they come from, we love everybody, open our doors to them. There’s always another chair at the table,” Dolan said.
“Many of us on Thanksgiving are blessed and fortunate,” Ruskay added, “but there’s another New York, and we’ve got to work to help them every day.”