Jewish Congregation Serves Hot Meals for First Responders on Christmas

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First responders gathered around a warm holiday meal of dinner rolls and kosher lasagna thanks to a Jewish Congregation Beth Shalom in Modesto.

"The firefighters, police, sheriff, ambulance drivers to know that we really appreciate what they do for us,” Joyce Gandelman, the Vice President for Congregation Beth Shalom told FOX40 Christmas Eve.

For the past seven years, the Jewish congregation has served warm meals for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to first responders. “Which is a holiday we don’t celebrate and feed them, provide a meal for them,” Gandelman explained.

FOX40 joined Gary Kailes, a volunteer with a big sense of humor and an even larger heart.

“My memory’s going but it’s been about five or six years that I’ve been doing this,” he said. "It’s nice. They’re always so glad to see us come, some of them don’t even know it’s coming but somebody at the facility has requested it."

Volunteers bring warm food to those who work at the downtown jail, over at the Safety Center, and other agencies who work tirelessly to protect the community. It's hard work to prepare a meal for 300 people, but it's their way of giving back.

"Unfortunately, holiday nights can get busy very busy for them so this is a nice break for them,” Kailes said.

“‘Tikkun Olam’ which is charity, ‘gemilut chassadim’ which is random acts of kindness."

One kosher meal at a time.

Beth Shalom will also serve hot meals to first responders on Christmas day from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

They also deliver warm meals to more than a dozen local senior citizens.