In Fort Worth, Christian pastors and Jewish Rabbis alike share something during their celebrations this winter. They view this season as an opportunity to welcome all from the community to join their traditions.
South Cliff and Avahath Sholom celebrate two very different holidays in December but both bring about a very common theme of service to the community. Both represent a season of giving.
“It’s a joyous season and should be joyous for everyone,” says Rabbi Bloom of Ahavath Sholom.
Ahavath Sholom has taken steps to invite the community to see how they honor the holiday of Chanukah, more often spelled Hanukkah. Bloom has written a page long press release welcoming Jew and Gentile (non-Jew) to the Synagogue on Dec. 20 for a community candle lighting.
The guest list for the event already includes Mayor Betsy Price, Rep. Kay Granger (R- Fort Worth) and Bishop Kevin Vann of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.
“I hope it’s the beginning of a yearly tradition of all religious leaders coming together to celebrate,” Bloom said.
While the candle lighting ceremony does celebrate a long history of Jewish tradition, Rabbi Bloom said Hanukkah is also about celebrating religious tradition in general. Incorporating other religious traditions is a welcomed addition.
Bloom said each family celebrates the eight nights of Hanukkah in their own way, but his family makes the point to buy food for the local shelter as part of their celebration.
“For us, it’s not about gift giving, but about giving in general. Each night we try to do something and look at life in a different perspective,” Bloom said.
South Cliff Baptist Church also practices an open-door policy for the celebration of Christmas. As the church prepares its 24th annual Christmas service, Worship Pastor Warren Pearson also takes on the role of public relations representative.
Warren has printed door hangers, business card sized invitations, and printer sheet advertisements to make sure that everyone in the area is aware of South Cliff’s Christmas celebration. This year they have posted a YouTube video on the South Cliff Facebook page to expand their marketing to the Internet.
Warren said the emphasis is to communicate the true meaning of Christmas to as many people and cultures as possible.
“In our service ‘God So Loved The World,’ we emphasize cultures all around the world,” Warren said.
In the Christmas service, members of the church will share their testimonies of what Christmas means to them and how they became Christians. International families will share how they celebrate the season in their home country.
Refugees that attend the English language classes at South Cliff are invited, as well as families involved with the community-wide “Angel Tree” project.
During Christmas South Cliff is involved with so many community outreach programs, it’s hard to keep count, Warren said. Some, he said, include Angel Tree, Beautiful Feet Ministries, Refugee Services and many others.
Whether it’s lights on a tree or the lights on a menorah, the birth of Jesus Christ or the remembrance of Jewish tradition, in Fort Worth this season honors diversity and a true sense of giving.
Ahavath Sholom candle lighting service is Tuesday, Dec. 20 at 6:30 PM at Congregation Shavath Sholom 4050 South Hulen. Daily services at the synagogue are also open to the public. The service is free.
South Cliff Christmas Service “God So Loved The World” will be shown Sunday, Dec. 11 at 9:20 AM and 11:00 AM as well as Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 7:00 PM at South Cliff Baptist Church 4100 SW Loop 820. Sunday worship services are at 9:20 AM and 11:00 AM. The service is free.