Lakeland Interfaith Thanksgiving Service Goes Virtual

Despite being around for 88 years, Temple Emanuel has modern ideas about extending Thanksgiving to a larger community. It’s all about finding gratitude in an unstable time. 

The Conservative Jewish congregation is organizing a virtual interfaith observance that in some ways is a successor to the in-person Lakeland Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service that used to happen every year. (There was no service last year because of the death of an organizer.)

Members of the Christian, Islamic and Jewish — and “none of the above” —communities are invited to come together via Zoom in a Thanksgiving service called “Finding Thankfulness from Day to Day,” with the goal to discuss how to improve dissent.

The service is scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 22, at 4 p.m., via Zoom. Use this link.

“I think that we sometimes forget when we get caught up in crisis mode and issues that are traumatic, to truly look around and see the blessings that we have,” said Rabbi David Goldstein.

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd will attend and offer a welcome, said Allen Shane, Temple Emanuel president. Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz will also speak, he said.

“Most of us have common goals but disagreements about how to get there,” Goldstein said. “We’ve had way too many disagreements without recognizing the common goals.”

Clergymen will speak at the service, which runs 90 minutes, with most presenters limited to about five minutes. The keynote speaker is Dr. John Fullerton, senior pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Lakeland.

Goldstein wants to take steps to heal the community in a time of crisis. More communicated engagement could be the key to recognizing and galvanizing efforts around issues like Black Lives Matter and food insecurity, he said. 

“We want to feel safe and cared about,” Goldstein said. “What we’ve forgotten is most of us are safe and cared about and we need to extend that to those who don’t have safety right now, worrying about where their next meal is coming from.”  

While there is a lot of division in the community, the goal of the service is to provide a starting point to unify everybody, said Allen Shane, president of Temple Emanuel.

“Repairing the world is just something I think is really inherent to pretty much all of us,” Shane said. “We’re all basically friends. We’re all neighbors. We may have other beliefs, but we are central to each other. We’re all fellow humans and we’re not in separate silos.”

The Zoom call is designed to accommodate any and all who want to participate.

The meeting will also serve to solicit donations to kidsPACK and Viste — Volunteers in Service to the Elderly.

For more information, email Shane at [email protected]

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