Shining Your Light: Ruth Seitelman

A coordinated project with NCJW Bergen County Section and The Center for Hope and Safety

Ruth Seitelman, Co-President NCJW Bergen County

There’s a reason why the kitchen is the center, the heart of the Jewish home. It’s a warm, nourishing place. That is exactly why the NCJW Bergan County Section (NCJW BCS) partnered with the Center for Hope and Safety to create the “Making Meals Together” project. The project was created to help the women and children at the Center for Hope and Safety shelter prepare and eat a fun dinner together, alongside the NCJW BCS volunteers. Our focus is to create a warm supportive atmosphere around the dinner table for staff, women, children and our volunteers.

Making Meals Together provides a fun, bonding activity for the mothers and their children to share, and it strengthens family cohesiveness, which, in most cases, is damaged by the domestic violence experience. Cooking together also brings all the families at the shelter together to build supportive relationships, the key to surviving domestic violence. The program also teaches fundamental cooking skills which allow families to make healthy, affordable, and nutritious meal choices going forward.

At the first Making Meals Together program, section volunteers joined the staff and residents for a Halloween-themed dinner. Children made the table decorations and baked cupcakes while their mothers and NCJW BCS volunteers prepared and served the meal. Together we cooked, dined, and had some great conversations with fifteen residents and twenty-two children (who even ate their green beans!)

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