MONTEREY COUNTY, California — On Sunday, March 26, 2017, more than forty Jews, Christians and Muslims united at Congregation Beth Israel in Carmel Valley to feed the homeless and hungry. Orientation was led by Rabbi Bruce Greenbaum, Rev. Brian Bajari of Beach Church, and Br. Abdel Kader Seck, president of Islamic Society of Monterey County. Volunteers enjoyed getting acquainted in small buddy groups before working together to prepare kosher and halal meals for service at both a Winter Warming Shelter in Salinas and at a Monterey beach. Br. Agha Bilal prepared a savory lamb and rice dish with lentil soup. Other volunteers sliced and diced fresh fruit and vegetables to make fruit and green salads. One group of volunteers filled breakfast bags with a bagel, fresh fruit and juice box, while still others prepared hot apple cider. After all meals were made and packed, Muslim volunteers said their afternoon prayers in the synagogue sanctuary, led by Br. Salem Elfiky. Jews and Christians observed while reading an English translation of the Arabic liturgy, then asked numerous questions. Blessings and prayers of thanksgiving for the food were offered by a member of each religious community before volunteers dined together. Afterwards, a smaller group proceeded to the Winter Warming Shelter in Salinas run by Community Homeless Solutions. It was jam-packed on a cold night with guests of all ages. Volunteers walked around rubber sleeping mats in order to serve all. When asked who wanted seconds, numerous children and adults were quick to raise their hands. Hot apple cider and breakfast bags were deeply appreciated. The shelter wasn't large enough to accommodate everyone who wanted in, so some waited outside hoping there would be enough meals for them also. Thankfully, volunteers brought plenty for all. Shelter guests expressed special delight when hearing their meals were prepared by a united effort of Jews, Christians and Muslims—thanks be to God, baruch Hashem, الحَمْد لله
Photos courtesy of Cory Piña.