Sam was smoking a cigarette out back at the Men's Shelter as I unloaded the groceries. He wished me a happy new year and I wished him one, too. I asked him what he hoped for in the new year and he told me that he hoped to have a place of his own. We exchanged hugs.
The Netivot Shalom volunteers arrived; food preparation began in earnest. Susi Lawrence spread out the menu and instructions for us to read. David and Rachel Gill began preparing the vegetable salad and were soon joined by Yonit Levy. Michael Tarle assumed the role of sous chef; ably assisted by Danielle Levy-Wolins and Jacob Richards the salmon loaf and black-eyed peas were prepared. Our friend, Tinh, a Cal student & community service volunteer, manned the guillotine-like can opener. Lydia Brose turned cast-off Starbucks bottles into attractive vases and filled them with flowers. Danielle covered the tables with cloths and Batya Brose set the tables with holiday napkins and utensils.
Barbara Wezelman shared a moving drash. She tracked the physical and metaphorical ups and downs of the Joseph story tying it to the ups and downs of the lives of the men in the shelter. She suggested that we remember with sensitivity that many of the men whom we were serving might very well be at their most "down." The food we prepare as well as the manner in which it is served could in some small way lead to a bit of an "up." Jerry Berkman arrived in time to help set up the dessert and serve. Brownies and cake were baked at home by the Krantz family. We added oranges and grapes for a healthy alternative. As a special holiday touch hot-mulled cider was served with dessert. Batya and Lydia and Jacob washed the pots and pans, Barbara swept the floor. A few of us stayed around for a bit of debriefing. Perhaps Rodgers and Hammerstein said it best in Carousel: "....the vittels we et were good, you bet, the company was the same."