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On Sunday I was Kissed by a Stranger

Torah commands to feed the hungry, the widow, the orphan and the stranger.  Congregation Or Ami partners with other churches and synagogues to provide hot meals and a warm smile for those in need.  Fariba Cooper, chair of this project for the past few years, shares this powerful experience with us:

It has been a while since I started to volunteer with “Feed the Homeless” program; each time I participated was a different experience but always truly rewarding.

Well, this time was surely different. I just got back from Congregation Or Ami’s amazing Seder in the Wilderness with trays of delicious leftovers from our amazing Bahador Catering.

As we were setting up to serve dinner at 6:30 pm, we reminded our Or Ami teens, including Jared and Josh Swedelson and Bar Mitzvah student Zachary Oschin that because this is Easter Sunday, please welcome the guests, wish them Happy Easter and don’t forget to smile. As I was serving the rolls, a middle age gentleman smiled after I said, “Happy Easter Sir.” He asked me if I celebrated Easter. “No,” I replied. “I celebrate Passover.” He shook his head and said, “You people are remarkable!!” I was analyzing the comment when he signaled me to come out from behind the serving table.

When we both got to the end of the table, he held my cheeks in the palm of his hands, pulled me over, and kissed my cheeks. He said, “Even though you don’t celebrate Easter and you are celebrating your own holiday, you are acknowledging my holiday. You Jewish people are very accepting of others and always helping everyone else. You don’t have the attitude of ‘our way is the only way, the best way’.” I was stunned. Then he gave me a hug and left to eat his Persian dinner.

I was truly touched. He was a well-dressed man who spoke eloquently and who was clearly down on his luck, like many other people these days. But he was wrong about one thing. He gave me a much greater gift than I had given them by volunteering for a few hours. For that, I am grateful.
Congratulation to Joshua Swedelson for accepting the responsibility for Or Ami’s “Feeding the Homeless” program. I know you will do amazing.
To all of our Seder in the Wilderness family, thank you for sharing your leftovers. Rest assured they were truly appreciated.

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