Phone calls were coming in for two weeks before the date. Survivors were excited to come to our annual Sukkot BBQ. Some needed rides and we were happy to pick them up!
Preparations began and volunteers were busy putting up the sukkah and decorating, tables, chairs, arranging everything, preparing food and all the accessories. We could not have held the BBQ if it were not for our Volunteers! A well deserved “Thanks!” to Jon and Anna, Auvia, Marianna, Brecht and Albert, Hagai and Sima, Elizabeth, Yohanna, Izhak, Elena and Leo.
The evening arrived and the first Survivors arrived one hour early! After that they began to arrive by walking, with canes and walkers, in wheelchairs, van, car… a total of 60 people! As the tables and chairs filled, the sun was about to go down when the musicians arrived! Walking in the gate playing an accordian and violin- smiles were everywhere and clapping began.
After a welcoming statement and introductions, the musicians began to play Russian, Israeli and Yiddish music. The Survivors clapped and swayed with the music. It was crowded this year but they did not seem to notice.
The BBQ Master Chef, Hagai, and his assistant, Albert, were busy grilling chicken shishlik (on a skewer) and beef/lamb burgers. Sima was in charge of the food
again this year and the volunteers lined up to start filling the tables! A variety of salads, pita and Russian bread, bottles of beverages and barbequed meat. Followed up with service of cakes and cookies, coffee and tea.
Now it was time for the raffle tickets. These were for Holocaust Survivors only. They clapped and sat on the edge of their seats. This was an important part of the evening!
Leo, a volunteer from Agape Unlimited, Moscow, drew the tickets. The other volunteers provided light to read the numbers and the door prizes were distributed. The tension as each number was called out was tangible. Finally the last gift was given and they stood up to leave.
As each person left we met them at the gate with a gift for everyone! Smiles, thanks, hugs and happiness filled the crowd as they exited. “Until next year!” some of them called. It has become a tradition now to come to Beit Shalom for the AHI Succot BBQ!