From @CNSBerkeley: The Men's Shelter Dinner Report
From Netivot Shalom: The Men's Shelter Dinner Report
Men's Shelter Report, August 2, 2015
With coaching from Hilla, Dani developed a lovely, new dinner menu: cilantro-lime rice, homemade baked tortilla chips, burrito bowls, green salad, dessert. "Burrito bowls, burrito bowls," I muttered while shopping at Smart and Final in San Pablo and at Monterey Market. What could those be? Whatever they were, they sure took a lot of fresh vegetables!
With some timely help from residents, I unloaded my little car about 4:30 PM. There are four prep areas in the Shelter kitchen and by habit and long-time convention they are areas for preparing the entrée, the salad, the dessert and the drinks. The food got sorted out onto the appropriate prep area and awaited the arrival of our first shift volunteers. Yonit headed straight for the salad area 'cause that's her specialty. A flurry of washing and chopping assorted lettuces, cucumbers, olives, radishes, green onions and in twenty-five minutes or so two large trays of salad were ready. In the meantime, Dani was orchestrating the grilling of peppers, onions, and zucchini while the rice started bubbling on the stove. Stacks of corn tortillas were cut-up, brushed very lightly with olive oil, and placed on trays ready for baking. CJ and Adam helped shred the chicken (thank you Whole Foods Gilman Street for your donation) and cut up the tofu and set them to warming while the black beans began to bubble in their cauldron. The cantelope was peeled and sliced and placed onto dessert plates along with a "smidgen" or possibly a "scosh" of a yummy garbanzo-based cookie-like sorta-brownie made by Dani, and room on the side for ice cream. Kobi, Casey, Gina, Sofie, and Noa arrived and helped get the buffet table set up. Dani's plan was for the men to create their own burrito bowl selecting from rice, beans, cheese, grilled vegetables, chicken or tofu, and salsa followed by salad, tortilla chips, and iced tea. The guys really liked having a broad choice of what went into their bowl and came back for seconds. Way, way too much stuff in hand for the men to also pick up dessert so Noa delivered the dessert to each resident. The personal service and the ice cream was definitely a hit. While Noa and Kobi helped with ice tea and dessert, Gina and Sofie set up their respective instruments (cello and violin) and began to play. The emotional temperature of the room settled down. The men were moved by the beautiful music and the generosity with which it was shared.
In the meantime, the quotidian tasks called out. Casey graciously answered and was in the kitchen washing and scrubbing a prodigious quantity of pots and pans. When you see Casey, Kobi, Adam, CJ, Hilla, Yonit, Dani, Gina, Sofie, and Noa be sure to acknowledge and thank them for their contributions.
Along with other organizations and individuals, CNS has committed to providing for, preparing, and serving dinners for the sixty resident men at the Berkeley Men's Shelter. We do this the first Sunday of every month. The men count on us and we have come to count on participating in this mitzvah. You can too! In fact we'd love it if you would join in the effort. There are so many tasks involved in putting on the dinner: planning, shopping, shlepping, chopping, slicing, lifting, scrubbing, peeling, serving, laughing, and, yes, playing musical instruments. Even donating funds to help support the purchase of food for the dinner is welcome. Just this month, the folks who organized the Kiddush to honor Milt and Marge donated money towards the Shelter Dinner.
I had a beautiful day today. I stood with my sister, a passionate rabbi serving the U.S. Navy as a chaplain, at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. We remembered our grandfather of blessed memory, who fought for America and shared hard-earned wisdom with his children and grandchildren.
I looked to my right and saw the Washington Monument. Looked to my left at the Lincoln Memorial. I read quotes engraved on massive stones. And I felt, to my core, one sad feeling: too much war.
Too. Much. War.
The quotes and certain retellings of history would have me believe that we fought for pure purposes: we fought for religious freedom, we fought to end slavery, we fought for freedom for all humanity, we fought to end tyranny. But it's also true that we fought (and fight) for economic interests. It&…