In this era of cultural and political polarization, it is more important than ever that we celebrate events like the 5th Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service. Faith leaders from 5 major denominations and representatives from the Thanks-Giving foundation and the North Dallas Shared Ministries led a meaningful and beautiful service at St. Rita Catholic Church in Dallas on November 17, 2022.
The theme of this year’s service was “Celebrating God’s Faithfulness”.
The Interfaith Thanksgiving was initiated in 2018 and was hosted by Congregation Shearith Israel that year. In subsequent years it has been hosted by various denominations and will continue next year at University Park United Methodist Church in Dallas on November 16, 2023.
“Going back to 2018 when we got this service started and hosted it here at Shearith Israel, it has been a source of profound joy to me each year to visit other area congregations of various faiths and denominations to take part in this uplifting experience. Living in a society rife with division, the fact that we are able to share in the spirit of kinship, community and gratitude despite our different religious beliefs is a precious gift indeed,” said Rabbi Ari Sunshine.
Kyle Ogden, President and CEO of the Thanks-Giving Foundation opened the service. The Thanks-Giving Foundation, established in 1964 and housed in Thanksgiving Square in downtown Dallas, has as its mission to be, “…a place where we can all stand together on common ground, reflect on gratitude and appreciate the diversity of our community.”
The service was accompanied by St. Rita’s choir and organist, Joshua Boyd.
Following the service there were cookies and refreshments and, of course, fellowship amongst the many different religious leaders and their congregants.
Among the particpants attending were:
Joshua Boyd, organist, St. Rita Catholic Community
Rev. Holly Bandel, Executive Associate Minister, First United Methodist Church, Dallas
Dr. Alfred Calabrese, Director of Music Ministry & Parish Liturgy
Bishop Keith M Earl, Dallas Texas Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Kyle Ogden, President & Chief Executive Officer, Thanks-Giving Foundation
Judy Rorrie, Executive Director, North Dallas Shared Ministries
Rev. Joe Stobaugh, Senior Minister, University Park United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Andy Stoker, Vice President, Chief Engagement Officer, Thanks-Giving Foundation
Imam Azhar Subedar, Spiritual Leader of the Islamic Center of Collin County
Rabbi Ari Sunshine, Senior Rabbi, Congregation Shearith Israel
Rev. Joshua Whitfield, Pastoral Administrator, St. Rita Catholic Community
Our youth High Holy Day Camp was fantastic! Several parents told us that their child did not want to leave shul! We saw kids from religious school and day school form strong friendships, where one 3rd grader told us he was upset that he wouldn’t see his new friends for a whole year. However, we will have more programs this year for day school and religious school students to be together and strengthen those friendships.
We were also amazed that close to 200 kids took part in the camp. Some of the older students went through the camp stations voluntarily with their friends, like answering reflective questions in Yom Kippur Jenga or participating in text studies!
One of the most exciting parts was watching one of our 3rd graders hold the Havdallah candle after Neilah. He was nervous, but so proud of himself!
High Holy Day Camp is a positive experience linking our youth and Judaism to learning about the holidays and making sure that shul is a happy place for all ages.
Thanks to the ongoing generosity of our congregants, Ladder Project clients are doing well.
Benito and his wife Monica love their Vickery Meadow apartment, which Congregation Shearith Israel completely furnished, and Benito has started his new, full-time job in the maintenance department at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas; his goal is to save enough money to buy a used car.
Our Afghani family just expanded with the birth of a baby girl. Dad Keramuddin, who is working in food service for Presbyterian Hospital, recently obtained his drivers license and bought a used van with his savings. The family of six will need to move into a three-bedroom house or apartment in June when their apartment lease expires; if any congregant has access to North Dallas housing please let us know.
Wendy, age 56, is a new LP client: After serving on ships for 16 years in the U.S. Navy, Wendy returned home to Plano to care for her ailing parents and brother. After serving as their caretaker, Wendy lost the family home in 2018 due to liens and medical debts. Unable to pay her apartment rent on a warehouse income of $10.50/hour, Wendy moved to the Austin Street Shelter in March 2022. We are currently looking for both a job (she is currently working part-time doing CAD drawings for solar panels and recently graduated from an 8-week medical equipment sterilization course) and a North Dallas apartment for her. All of her family's belongings are in storage awaiting a new home.
Please contact Ladder Project's Chair Laura Miller if you have any housing, used car, or job ideas for our clients.
Congregants will have a chance to meet many of our LP clients at CSI's Hannukah Shabbat dinner on December 16. Please welcome them to the CSI family. They will want to thank you in person for all you have done for them.
We also welcome our newest Ladder Project volunteers: Danielle Gervis, Joshua Gold, Melanie Morris, Eric Roseman, Olivier and Sandra Sebag, and Bill and Helen Sutker.
Shearith Israel clergy, staff and congregants share