For the 33rd consecutive year, Judea Reform Congregation will make a traditional Christmas dinner and deliver it to clients of Meals on Wheels of Durham today.
The quiet Christmas Day tradition started at Judea Reform in 1980 during John Friedman's first year as rabbi of the Durham congregation. Since then, the program has expanded each year. This Christmas, congregants will take the traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings to 171 homebound seniors.
The congregation is also partnering with the Jewish Federation of Durham/Chapel Hill's annual Mitzvah Day to bring 14 Christmas dinners to on-duty officers of the Chapel Hill Police Department.
Friedman has announced his retirement effective June 30, 2015, and will be on sabbatical during the 2014 Judea Reform Christmas Day meals project.
Today, a day when typically not much is going on in a synagogue, Judea Reform's kitchen is a flurry of activity as dozens of volunteers put the final touches on a warm holiday meal and a homemade Christmas card, and load up cars with meals and maps.
It is so meaningful to our congregants to make sure that others can enjoy their holiday, said Kate Flanagan, director of the annual program. This is work that we are honored and delighted to do for residents of Durham who might otherwise not have a hot meal or a friendly visit during the holiday. After 33 years, this event has become a mainstay of Judea Reform's social action agenda.
Judea Reform, founded in 1961, is the largest synagogue in the Triangle region with more than 1,400 individual members. Its membership includes Jews in Durham and Chapel Hill who gather to worship, learn, serve and engage in sacred traditions of a shared heritage.
About Duke Chapel
Regardless of whether you fly Duke Blue, Carolina Blue or State Red, one thing folks in Durham can agree on is that God looked with favor on the Bull City when James B. Duke and company saw fit to build a great Gothic cathedral to be the centerpiece of the campus at Duke University.
Duke Chapel, which held its first service in 1932, has its own resident congregation with its own minister as well as a Sunday congregation of hundreds of worshipers from all over the area. It also provides space for use by 27 faith groups on the university campus.
Although the chapel has close connections with Duke Divinity School and the United Methodist Church, it has no affiliation with any particular denomination. Services at the chapel are ecumenical.
Past deans have included a Quaker, a Presbyterian, several United Methodists and an Anglican. The present dean was ordained by the Progressive National Baptist Convention and is the chapels first black dean.
The presence of Duke Chapel, often described as one of America's Bully Pulpits, has enriched the city's religious, educational and cultural life for more than 80 years. The sun would fail to shine if the great choir and orchestra at the chapel did not begin the Christmas season with Handel's Messiah and offer a Christmas Eve service that is so popular you have to arrive two hours ahead to find a seat in the sanctuary that seats some 1,700 worshipers. In a special arrangement with Time Warner Cable News this service is telecast across the state.
Brides and their fathers camp out under the big magnolia trees around the quad when the chapel opens its scheduling books for weddings. Chapel organists and choral groups offer concerts from time to time during the year and the chapel welcomes great guest preachers from around the world to fill its pulpit.
Although the chapel is used for special university events, all other chapel programs, events, concerts and worship services are open to the larger community.
An interesting sidelight: The Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina uses the chapel when it consecrates a new bishop. A church official said, Duke Chapel is the nearest thing to a beautiful Anglican cathedral in North Carolina.
When you see something every day, sooner or later it becomes invisible. If that has happened to you and Duke Chapel, take time to get acquainted or to attend an 11 a.m. Sunday worship service. You will find a user-friendly order of service, a pleasant congregation where worshipers do not dress to impress to come to church, beautiful choral and instrumental music and a relevant sermon by Dean Luke Powery or by visiting clergy.
On the four upcoming Monday evenings in January, Dr. Mickey Efird will share his knowledge of Biblical context in a series of lectures at Hillsborough Presbyterian Church on Tryon Street in Hillsborough.
A recognized scholar of both the Old and New Testaments and professor emeritus at Duke Divinity School, Efird is known for his skill in providing the historical backdrop against which the biblical drama unfolds. In the upcoming lectures, he will bring alive the people and events in the book of Romans, which describes a crucial period in the early Christian church.
The public is invited to attend the lectures from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on Jan. 6, 13, 20 and 27. A reception will follow each lecture.
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