Thanksgiving, Hanukkah celebrated during St. Ben's Community Meal

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The first day of Hanukkah was observed at the blessing of St. Ben's Community Meal's traditional Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, November 28th.

St. Ben's Community Meal was served Thursday near 9th and State.

The last time Thanksgiving and Hanukkah took place on the same day was back in 1888, and the next time it will happen is  79,043 years from now — by one estimate shared in Jewish circles.

“Although St. Ben’s Community Meal is a Capuchin ministry, we honor and respect all faiths and religions.  It is important to us that we recognize the first day of Hanukkah while giving thanks and gratitude for all we have.  Even though many of those attending the meal are homeless or chronically poor, many will agree that they, too, are blessed," Brother Rob Roemer, executive director of the meal said.

Karen Berman, Congregation Shalom's Cantor and recording artist sang a Hebrew Prayer of Thanksgiving during the event.

“I am honored to be part of St. Ben’s Community Meal’s Thanksgiving/Hanukkah meal,” Berman said.  “Many of our temple members serve at the meal regularly.  Shalom has been a long-time supporter and meal sponsor of St. Ben’s.”

425 guests were anticipated.  At the close of the meal, each guest received a present (either a warm winter or hygiene item).

Michael Durr had a smile on his face before the volunteers even began handing out the dinners.

"I'm 57 years old and I'm still breathing. Folks are dying at a young age, teenagers and stuff like that -- so I'm grateful for that," Durr said.

Durr said he was trying to find a place to go on Thanksgiving, and a friend suggested this dinner.

"I walked here from 38th and Fond du Lac. Three-and-a-half miles. It's a nice little walk. This hot food -- it done heated me up. It's cold out there, but this food done heated me up and I'm going for seconds," Durr said.

St. Bens Community Meal, a Capuchin ministry, has been Milwaukee’s largest regular potluck dinner since 1970.

Over 75 organizations (including churches, temples, and mosques) provide hot, home-made dishes to feed Milwaukee’s hungry.

St. Ben’s provides nutritious meals, six days a week, to those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Over 2,000 meals are served each week.

St. Ben's also provides prevention-focused health care through its clinic which partners with Columbia St. Mary's, providing health care to those who can’t afford it. Additional ministries include St. Benedict the Moor parish and jail ministry.

All ministries are located at 9th and State.