Harrisburg synagogue makes Thanksgiving meal for emergency responders

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Not everyone gets the day off on the holidays, especially not emergency responders. For firefighters and police officers  working Thursday in Harrisgburg, they received a Thanksgiving treat.

It started the Thanksgiving after Sept. 11, 2001. Kesher Israel Congregation started serving a kosher Thanksgiving meal to on-duty firefighters.

Kesher Israel Congregation Rabbi Akiva Males said, "Unfortunately, it took a tragedy like that for so many members of our community and the country at large to realize that gratitude that we have toward our firefighters."

As the years have passed, the congregation started serving police officers. A dozen volunteers started to prep and cook Wednesday at 6 p.m. The rabbi said it's a way to show the first responders their appreciation.

"They're there when we need them, but we really need to take the opportunity to go and say thank you," he said. "Let them know that we appreciate them, and for all they're doing for our family and communities, and keeping us all safe and secure."

After volunteers made the meal at the synagogue, they headed over to the fire station where police officers and firefighters were waiting to eat. The officers and firefighters stuffed themselves with everything from turkey to pumpkin pie. But, it was a slice of humble pie as well.

Brendon Booz, a Harrisburg Fire Department firefighter, said, "It's just humbling that the community comes out and provides us with food on this Thanksgiving."

The emergency responders said they are thankful for the congregation for giving them a home-cooked meal while they work. But it's not just about the meal. It's about telling the public the firefighters can be depended on.

"Public safety as a whole has gotten a bad rap in the past couple months and years," Booz said. "And the public just needs to know we're out there for them to provide for them and keep them safe."

The congregation said it has started a trend. Synagogues from across the U.S. have started serving Thanksgiving meals to on-duty emergency responders.

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