Interfaith volunteers cook up Christmas meal for others

December 25, 2017 04:51 PM

TROY - Inside the kitchen of a Jewish synagogue, staffed by Muslim and Jewish volunteers, preparing meals for Christians -- what could possibly be more American?

"As you can see, you look at all these people and you see how festive it is around here," pointed out Brian Hollander, project coordinator. "They get that feeling that they're doing something with their day and that they're doing something for other people and it's really good," pointed out Brian Hollander, project coordinator.

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Something really good that's taking place inside Temple Berith Sholom in Troy is a Jewish-Muslim Sisterhood event that coincides with similar projects across the country that illustrates interfaith solidarity, and carry out the true meaning of Tzedakah -- or charitable giving -- which happens to be a staple of both religions.

"It's a good feeling when you do something for the people -- doesn't matter where they're from or what they're doing, what color are they. They are people and we celebrate Christmas," noted Ammar Mahmoodee a volunteer.

In addition to the hot meals that are being delivered to more than 200 families throughout Rensselaer County, an assimilation assembly line keeps busy so that everyone has a Christmas gift to go with their hot meal.

"When they deliver the meals, I've actually done that a couple of times, and you knock on the person's door and most of the time you end up staying there for a good 15-20 minutes because they just want to chat with you," noted Hollander.

One of the unique aspects of this project is that while the volunteers are really happy to be able to help others, the joy and satisfaction they receive is tempered by the realization that so many others in the community that need the services.

"I feel like I have to do this back for the American people here," explained Mahmoodee.

He says he feels an obligation to repay the kindness shown to him when he made the transition from refugee to American.

"We help each other and they help us," pointed out Mahmoodee. "So that's what happens always and we try to keep doing something back to those people, because they help my people."

It’s religious reciprocity at its finest.


WNYT Staff

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