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Jewish congregation helps out shelter on Christmas

Updated:

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ Helping others is a principle common to many religions throughout the world.

It's that sentiment that motivates a local Jewish congregation to help out a homeless shelter during the Christmas season.

Members of Temple Israel donate their time at the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless during the holiday season, serving hot meals, playing games with children and sorting and distributing clothes.

On Christmas Day, members run the shelter to allow staff members to spend time with their families.

``Our congregation has been at the shelter on Christmas Day ever since they opened their doors,'' said Rabbi Charles Sherman, who has served as temple rabbi for 25 years. ``What has been interesting is the number of families we have that sign up to work.''

Jeanne Jacobs, membership and volunteer coordinator for the temple, sees it as a way to help those that need help.

``It is a chance to give something back and to make the world a better place,'' Jacobs said. ``Judaism believes that we are in partnership with God in helping the world be a better place to live.''

Sandra Holden, executive director for the shelter, said many of the temple's teen-agers get involved.

``We have several teen-agers who are having their bar mitzvahs,'' Holden said. ``Instead of presents, they will request that money be given to the shelter.''

The center provides shelter and support services for people within Tulsa and the surrounding area. The center serves more than 400 people each day and provides lodging for more than 65 people each night.

The shelter was founded by the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministries when Sherman was president.

With the help of the Jewish community, the shelter has grown from a 4,000-square-foot storefront to a 23,000-square-foot building, Holden said.
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