“I will rain down bread for you from the sky, and the people shall go out and gather each day’s portion…” — Exodus 16:4

The Hebrew Scriptures have much to say about food and the act of feeding people. Whether Divine manna is being fed to people in the wilderness, a meal of hospitality is being served to strangers, or offerings of thanks and atonement are being brought for sacrifice, food and eating is firmly connected to God, holiness, and the performance of godly deeds.

In the Jewish tradition, once the sacrificial altar was eliminated from religious observance, our dinner tables and meals became the center for connecting what we eat and how we eat it, with our religious observance. Coming together over a meal, enjoying special foods, and preparing traditional dishes are central to how we live lives of purpose and connection. Additionally, we are obligated to provide food for those who cannot provide for themselves, not just through donations, but through making food more accessible and more healthful for everyone.

As important as it is to provide for basic nutritional needs, the joy of a homemade treat has the power to brighten our hearts, souls, and bellies. The manna described in the book of Exodus wasn’t just nutritious, it was said to be sweet, like honey and cardamom. This lifted the spirits of the Israelites and gave them hope as they walked their uncertain path.

In that spirit, we are launching a new project through Sunbury Together, the interfaith clergy alliance, called The Takery. Once a month, in the late afternoon, we will be at the gazebo in Cameron Park in Sunbury, offering home-baked breads and other treats, to all who come. Our neighbors, especially those struggling to go beyond the basics, will be able to take loaves of bread and other baked-goods home to enjoy. They will all be free of charge. That’s why, instead of a bakery, we are calling this The Takery.

The first Takery will be Wednesday, February 13th, from 4:30-6:30pm, or while supplies last. Our second Takery is scheduled for Wednesday, March 13th. Everyone is welcome to come and participate. If you are interested in baking, helping with distribution, or knowing more, please contact Rabbi Nina Mandel: rabbi@beth-el-sunbury.org.

Nina Mandel is rabbi at Congregation Beth El, 249 Arch St., Sunbury. Visit www.beth-el-sunbury.org for more information.

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