Tikkun Olam Thanksgiving Breakfast Bags

On Wednesday, November 11, Tikkun Olam Volunteers assembled 600 Thanksgiving Breakfast Bags for Lenox Hill House and Sanctuary for Families.

Each year Tikkun Olam hosts an annual Thanksgiving Dinner at the temple (on the day before the holiday) for senior citizens and women and children from local homeless and domestic violence shelters. However, with the Coronavirus pandemic, the volunteers had to get a little creative about how they were best going to serve those in need within our community.

With each volunteer set up at their own socially distant station within Wise Hall, six masked volunteers worked in tandem to assemble the 600 Thanksgiving Bags.

Miriam Reines, who has been a member of Temple Emanu-El since 1977 and chairs our Sunday Lunch Program said, “Emotionally, I feel like I want to help those in need. I feel fortunate and I want to help others, especially now. As long as we comply with the COVID recommendations, I feel comfortable. During the pandemic, I think [volunteering] is even more of a priority. I see people on the street. I see it on TV. I see a lot of people in need so wherever I can I help, I’m retired now, I love doing that.”

For Peter Webb, the Tikkun Olam committee is a way of giving back to Temple Emanu-El and helping other New Yorkers. A member since 2015, the Thanksgiving Breakfast Bags volunteer opportunity was a way for Webb to reconnect with his community after the shelter in place. “For me, it goes hand in hand with my spiritual practice and helping to repair the world and make it a better place. That’s not only an internal process but also an external process. So for me, it’s about giving back and helping others.”

Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, widely recognized as one of New York’s premier nonprofit organizations, is a 126-year-old settlement house that provides an extensive array of effective and integrated human services—social, educational, legal, health, housing, mental health, nutritional and fitness—which significantly improve the lives of thousands of people in need each year, ages 3 to 103, on the East Side of Manhattan.

Sanctuary for Families is dedicated to the safety, healing and self-determination of victims of domestic violence and related forms of gender violence. Through comprehensive services for our clients and their children, and through outreach, education and advocacy, we strive to create a world in which freedom from gender violence is a basic human right. Our first office housed five employees at a church parish house in midtown Manhattan. By 1985, we were providing shelter to 35 women and children each night, and operating a daycare program. Guided by the needs of the survivors we serve, in the years that followed we launched the Legal Center, programming for children, and the Sarah Burke House Transitional Shelter. We also expanded our mission to meet the needs of survivors of sex trafficking, female genital mutilation, and related forms of gender violence. Today, Sanctuary for Families employs over 200 lawyers, clinicians and support staff, and operates out of 11 locations throughout New York City. Together, we make a difference for nearly 10,000 adults and children every year, and tirelessly advocate for an end to gender violence.