Reform Synagogue’s Members Create a New Meaning around the Festival of Lights with Major Collection Drive for Needy Neighbors

A major part of the Hanukkah story is that one days’ worth of oil burned for eight days. In honor of the holiday, members of Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel (TSTI) in South Orange collected and donated 135 bottles of cooking oil to the Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges (IFPO); TSTI is one of four area houses of worship that support the food pantry, which provides supplemental and emergency food to low-income residents of Orange and East Orange.

Sources outside of the TSTI community also donated to the cause, enabling the Reform synagogue to reach its 250-bottle goal, so that each client could take home a bottle during the distribution on January 11. TSTI staffs the food pantry one Wednesday a month, bagging and distributing pantry staples for 250 individuals and families. The Interfaith Food Pantry of the Oranges (http://orangesfoodpantry.org) is located at the Church of Epiphany & Christ Church in Orange, N.J.

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“Although cooking oil is one of the most commonly requested grocery items by our food-insecure neighbors, it is not usually supplied by IFPO,” said Karyn Boosin Leit, TSTI Executive Board member and IFPO pantry coordinator. “This donation will enable them to cook hundreds of meals for themselves and their families.”

Given that Hanukkah is the Festival of Lights, TSTI members also ran a Hanukkah light bulb collection; approximately 150 bulbs were distributed on January 18 to pantry clients. Cantor Rebecca Moses of TSTI, who spearheaded the collections, noted that, “Providing light will help make sure that family time, homework time, and work time may continue for thousands of hours during the evening for IFPO clients.”

Temple Sharey Tefilo-Israel is a vibrant, inclusive Reform congregation that welcomes Jews by birth or by choice, interfaith, traditional and non-traditional families, and children of all abilities. It offers lifelong learning and creative, enriching programs for all members, from preschoolers and teens to older adults. Its full complement of religious services, early childhood and religious school education, cultural programs and activities foster connection, engagement, and community outreach. TSTI's members live in Maplewood, South Orange, West Orange, Short Hills, Millburn, Livingston, and surrounding areas. For more information, please visit www.tsti.org.