Wise Temple Continues a Cherished Holiday Tradition at SFSM
For more than a decade, members of the Isaac M. Wise Temple community have volunteered to serve Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for the guests at St. Francis Seraph Ministries (SFSM). This year, the congregation’s tradition has taken on added significance.
“There’s an element of Jews going out into a community and continuing to show that we serve and are supportive of all people at a time when antisemitism feels like it’s on the rise,” says Jeff Stern, Wise Temple’s Director of Communications and Member Engagement. “We won’t let it stop us from going out and serving the community. We are a people who want to support the community we live in and can make meaningful contributions.”
The Wise volunteers served Thanksgiving dinner to our guests on Nov. 20. They’ll provide, prepare, and serve dinner again on Dec. 20. Usually, about 15-20 people volunteer for each meal and a rabbi attends to say a blessing alongside a Franciscan friar.
For many Wise families, serving at SFSM has become one of their annual holiday traditions. Volunteers span generations who share the goal of making a difference in the local community. The concept of tikkun olam drives their commitment, Jeff says.
“Tikkun olam translates roughly to repairing or healing the world,” he explains. “It’s a big part of what we believe in at Wise — social action and supporting our community.”
The relationship between Wise temple and SFSM exemplifies a core Franciscan value of interfaith dialogue and collaboration. In 1219, St. Francis met with Sultan Malik al-Kamil in Egypt, creating a model for connecting with people of different backgrounds, beliefs, and traditions.
“It’s a joy and an honor to be joined by our friends from Wise every year,” SFSM Executive Director Mary Pat Raupach says. “Together, we can do so much more for people in need than we could do on our own. I’m extremely grateful for this longstanding, fruitful friendship between our organizations.”