1,500 For Christmas Dinner: Los Angeles’ Largest Free Interfaith Christmas Dinner, Hosted By Temple Israel of Hollywood, Anticipates 1,500 Guests on Christmas Day, December 25, from 11 AM – 4 PM at Hollywood United Methodist Church

Press Release – Los Angeles, December 18, 2018 – On Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25th, 2018, Temple Israel of Hollywood (TIOH) will continue its over 30 year tradition of hosting a huge annual interfaith Christmas Dinner for the Homeless and Hungry. The dinner, which was started by TIOH in the 1980’s, is organized together with TIOH’s long-standing partner, Hollywood United Methodist Church (where the giant meal is served on Christmas Day), as well as recent partner the ILM (Intellect, Love, Mercy) Foundation, which has roots in Islam. The event takes place from 11 AM-4 PM at Hollywood United Methodist Church, 6817 Franklin Avenue Hollywood, CA 90028, at the corner of Highland and Franklin. The Christmas Dinner was originally a project of the Hollywood Interfaith Coalition, whose churches had been serving Thanksgiving dinner. Some of the coalition’s Jewish participants thought that it would be a nice idea for the Jewish participants to take over the serving of Christmas Dinner so that the members of the coalition celebrating and observing Christmas could stay home with their families. TIOH subsequently became the lead organizer and host of the event.

Over 300 volunteers are expected at the dinner, serving over 100 roasted turkeys with stuffing, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberry sauce and a host of desserts. Joining all the volunteers will be at least 1,000 other Angelenos, and hopefully more (the goal is to include 1,500 dinner participants): retirees, homeless people, working families with young children, and other hungry and needy individuals and families.

More than 50 volunteers of all ages, including children and families, are expected to participate in “Set Up Day” on Saturday, December 22nd, setting up and decorating a beautiful holiday dining room, stocking a giant toy room, and setting up a photo studio for pictures with Santa. During the event on Christmas Day, volunteers will serve over 1,000 meals while Santa will delight hundreds of children with new toys and family portraits. All of the guests will leave with bags filled with personal care items, new socks, hats and blankets. Food Forward will also supply crates of fresh mangoes for guests to take with them, as well as enjoy during dinner. Child guests will be able to select a book from over 300 new and current books donated by The Book Foundation.

Rabbi John Rosove, Senior Rabbi of TIOH said: “Our congregation signed a Brit Olam, or covenant with our world, via the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, to meet ‘the urgency of now.’ According to homelessness counts between 2010 and 2017, the number of homeless people across Los Angeles County went from 38,700 to over 55,000 – an increase of 42%. (https://bit.ly/2OhdKUC). We welcome and embrace our partners at Hollywood United Methodist Church and the ILM Foundation to strategically help those included in these counts, and in need. Right now we focus our efforts on one sacred day; our efforts towards a more just and equal world remain evergreen.”

Reverend Kathy Cooper Ledesma of Hollywood United Methodist Church added: “Today we ask not for your financial support, or for more food, because we have all that covered. Instead, we ask for your support as neighbors, to reach out and spread our invitation to Christmas dinner to those in your orbit who might not otherwise hear of it.”

Volunteers are welcome but spots are limited and advanced sign up is required. Please visit www.tioh.org for more information.

About Temple Israel of Hollywood

Since its founding by a group of entertainment luminaries in 1926, Temple Israel of Hollywood (www.tioh.org) has never strayed from its Hollywood roots or its connections to Reform Jewish traditions and values. Today, TIOH remains dedicated to worship, community, Jewish life, social justice, education, Jewish expression through the Arts, and to Israel in a contemporary context. TIOH was founded upon a commitment to social justice, through both thought and action. Leading Jewish thinkers, including Rabbis Mordechai Kaplan, Leo Baeck and Stephen S. Wise, gave sermons here about important social issues. In 1965, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke movingly from the Temple’s pulpit about segregation, poverty, freedom, and human dignity. TIOH congregants annually serve a joyful Christmas dinner to over 1,000 homeless and hungry Angelenos; prepare monthly lunches for individuals living with HIV/AIDS; gather food and other relief supplies for distribution locally and globally; organize for disaster relief; and continuously address contemporary social and humanitarian issues through leadership and action. In 1997, Temple Israel launched Mitzvah Day which has grown into “Big Sunday Weekend,” an independent nonprofit with year-round programming. Now the largest regional community service event in America, Big Sunday draws tens of thousands of participants year-round to participate in hundreds of service projects throughout California and several other states. Temple Israel remains among its strongest supporters. As a congregation that was founded, in large part, by creative leaders in the entertainment industry, TIOH strives to honor their vision by making the arts a vital aspect of the identity of Temple Israel of Hollywood. Understanding and expressing Jewish life, spirit and community through the arts is a vital aspect of TIOH’s identity. This vision is implemented through TIOH’s high quality professional artistic programs, including music, visual arts, drama, and literature that connect to the Jewish experience.

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