Aventura - Sunny Isles

It’s all about the sides: Volunteers help prep Thanksgiving meal for needy

Illona Bergstrom and Eileen Storch prepare a bean salad at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in Aventura on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015.
Illona Bergstrom and Eileen Storch prepare a bean salad at the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center in Aventura on Monday, Nov. 23, 2015. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Donning white plastic gloves, Marcia and Stu Gelband carefully seasoned large tinfoil trays of green beans with lemon, scallions and other ingredients.

The couple, who drove to Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center from Weston on Monday night to help prepare food for the homeless, said the traffic was well worth it.

“A mitzvah [good deed] is a mitzvah,” said Marcia Gelband, 72, who planned on discussing the concept with her seven grandchildren at their Thanksgiving table Thursday. “This is a great way of giving back.”

Now in its seventh year, Everything but the Turkey — an event put on by the Jewish Volunteer Center of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation — draws hundred of volunteers to make stuffing, bean salad, glazed carrots, sweet potato casserole and apple cake to donate to the Miami Rescue Mission.

Lori Tabatchnikoff, director of the Jewish Volunteer Center, said the event helps fulfill “the Jewish value of repairing the world.”

Over two days — there is an event Tuesday at Temple Beth Am in Pinecrest — more than 8,000 portions will be prepared. The Jewish Volunteer Center spends about $3,000 on the ingredients.

For Miami Rescue Mission, the contribution is significant.

“We can’t do anything without the support of the community,” said Marilyn Brummitt, development director for the Miami Rescue Mission.

Brummitt said they expect to serve more than 2,000 meals during a Thanksgiving Day block party.

Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center Rabbi Jonathan Berkun said with this being the “season of giving, it’s important to actively participate in giving back.”

“I think at the core, most religions share in a common set of values to care for those in need, feed the hungry, clothe the naked and protect the stranger,” he said.

When volunteers arrived they were given a color, which coordinated with a particular dish.

Daniel Somek, 9, carefully cut peppers with his mom standing by watching that his fingers didn’t get too close to the blade.

“He’s never done this before,” she said. She then gave him the lemon to squeeze.

“I think it’s important for us to get involved and give back,” said his mother Amy Somek, 41.

At a table across the room, Somek’s daughter Simone, 11, and her friend Shoshana Stein, 10, worked on an oatmeal berry bake by themselves.

“It’s fun,” Simone said.

Shoshana added: “It’s nice to help other people.”

If you go

What: Everything but the Turkey South.

When: From 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: Temple Beth Am, 5950 N. Kendall Dr., Pinecrest.

For information: 786-866-8680 or volunteer@jewishmiami.org.