Temple Adat Elohim
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Holiday Dinner

Social Action

Making a Difference Together

Annual Holiday Dinner

Each year at TAE on Christmas Day


2017 - 23rd Annual Community Holiday Dinner

What a great day. We could not have done it without all of our volunteers and donors. Thank you!!!

Click here to read the Ventura County Star article about the dinner.

Click here to read our thank you to volunteers & donors.

Click here to read "Christmas Day" a poem by Suzanne Gallant reflecting on the 2017 Holiday Dinner.

Click here to read Joany Davidson’s reflections on the day shared with friends through an email.

150+ volunteers started at 7:00 am and worked throughout the day to serve approximately 250 guests.

Thanks to the early morning setup crew who set up all of the tables and chairs and staged all of the supplies.

Thanks to the decorating crew who transformed the social hall into a festive room for the celebration.

... and thanks to all of the other volunteers whose pictures we didn't capture, but without whom the day could not have happened.

Our thank you to everyone who made the day possible

Dear Holiday Dinner Volunteers & Donors,

Wow, what a wonderful community!  You are awesome!  Based on the smiles on the faces of our guests and the conversations that were heard around the room – the efforts of each person who volunteered their time to make the dinner happen were very deeply appreciated.

It is very difficult to properly thank 150+ people who gave of their day off to provide a warm and wonderful dinner for our community.  

Thank you to those who worked on the planning committee – arranging all the details – food, parking, entertainment, advertising, decorations, coordinating volunteers and all the administrative details.

Thank you to the early risers who willingly came at 7am to transition the social hall from the Winter Shelter to the Holiday Dinner! You moved all of the shelter supplies to storage, vacuumed, sanitized, set up tables and chairs and staged all of the donated toys, decorations and dinner supplies for the volunteers who followed you.

Thank you to those who chaperoned the Winter Shelter guests creating the opportunity for them to remain with us in the foyer from 7:00 am – 11:30 am.

Thank you to the awesome decorating shift who transformed the social hall into a warm, festive and beautiful dining room that included a very inviting toy store.

 Thank you to those who helped in the kitchen, with desserts and drinks, photography and toys.

Thank you to those who spent the entire day in the parking lot, ensuring that our guests arrived and left safely.

Thank you to those who greeted our guests and welcomed them to TAE.

Thank you to the fabulous musicians and performers who turned the social hall into a festive home.

Thank you to those who stayed (or came specifically just to lend their hands) to take down the decorations, clean up, and deliver leftovers to Lutheran Social Services, Many Mansions and the Ventura Rescue Mission.

Thank you to Ideal Meats, BSC Catering, Costco Westlake Village, Top Tier Treats, Imperial Toy Company, the Conejo PTAs and TAE members for donating all that we were able to provide to our guests.

Thank you to the Westlake Village Junior Women’s Club of for their generous financial contribution that helped defray the many costs associated with hosting the dinner.

Thank you to Marilyn Lippel and Gregg Southard who provided sage wisdom to us as they handed over the reigns of the dinner planning after chairing for 10 years.

Thank you to the staff of TAE who supported us every step of the way – especially Angel Ramirez who spent his Christmas Day working with and guiding us to ensure that everything went smoothly.

Thank you to everyone who made our guests feel welcome and helped them to enjoy the day. We wish we could thank each of you personally.

We hope that you too, left your time at temple feeling uplifted by that knowledge that you helped bring so much joy to others.

Andrea Moxley and Amy Corin, Community Holiday Dinner Co-chairs

Marcia and Harold Gordon, Social Action Co-Chairs

Christmas Day

By Suzanne Gallant

I cry easily these days,

Not in sadness

What makes me tear up

Is beauty.


The beauty of the soul

In Hebrew, nefesh.

The acts of charity

Are just plain beautiful.


Christmas Day is special

For those with families

And those who don’t

Our gift is beauty.


Our synagogue serves

Christmas Dinner and Dessert

Our volunteers serve, clean

And sign the beauty.


I walked into my shift,

To a roomful of diners

And volunteers and more

The music made it beautiful.


And I began to cry

My tears of pride, of the joy,

That we, my community

Created this beauty.


Each person there,

Whether dining or serving

Or meeting and greeting

Demonstrated the beauty of soul.


And after all had eaten,

And received the bounty of our donors,

Volunteers began, without direction

To remove the outer beauty.


There is nothing any of us,

Not one action or word,

That could erase in our memories

The incredible beauty of this Christmas.

Reflections on Volunteering

by Joany Davidson

In an email to friends following the dinner, Joany wrote:

I just wanted to share with you my experience today, and what it meant to me. If you want an instant high, try doing a real mitzvah. I think I really learned the true meaning of this word today.

I just came home from our temple, and feel so good about the mitzvah our temple performed for the community today. My friend Sue and I volunteered to work a clean up shift in the afternoon from the community dinner our temple sponsored.Our temple does this every year on Xmas day. We offer a holiday dinner open to the entire community. Several local vendors donate food and gifts for the children. We use our temple catering service to prepare the food. Volunteers from our membership work all kinds of shifts, from early in the morning to late afternoon: set up, decoration, serving the food, entertainment and clean up. Our own temple members sing and play instruments for our guests. I understand that today we had around 250 people come to eat a meal and enjoy companionship. Some of our guests are homeless; others have no place to go to celebrate their holiday.

As I was busy working to take decorations off the walls, a young Latina mother with a small child came over to me to say thank you! When I realized that she was Latina, I immediately spoke to her in Spanish, wishing her a Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year. She told me her little girl was 3 years old, and I said the child was so adorable. The little girl was carrying a toy and a balloon. The mother said how grateful she was that her child could have a toy on Xmas. I felt my eyes fill with tears as I realized once again how fortunate I am to have everything any person could want or need.

When I looked at this young mother and her little girl, I was reminded of what the word "mitzvah" really means. I felt happier at that moment cleaning up at the temple, than if I were at the fanciest gala or the most beautiful affair. I instantly remembered my favorite quote from Isaiah 58 1-14: "Is not this the fast I have chosen: to unlock the shackles of injustice, to loosen the ropes of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to tear every yoke apart? Surely it is to share your bread with the hungry, and to bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked to cover them, never withdrawing yourself from your own kin."

I hope this brightens your day, as it did mine!


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