Jewish congregation serves Christmas lunch to ICU - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Jewish congregation serves Christmas lunch to ICU

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Not everyone celebrates Christmas as a holy day. But that didn't stop a local Jewish congregation from brightening Christmas for some Christian families in Memorial Hospital's Intensive Care Unit.

"These people are in need of the joy and camaraderie that other people at home are having today," said Sylvia Wygoda, member of B'Nai Zion congregation.

Wygoda helped organize a group of 20 congregation members to provide lunch for families in the ICU on Christmas Day. Hospital officials said there was a need on Wednesday. According to Wygoda, Christian churches typically provide lunch throughout the year.

"But on Christmas Day, the church members want to be at home with their families.. as they should," she said.

While most of the city is closed for Christmas, Rabbi Susie Tindler said it's a way for the Jewish community to help the greater Chattanooga community.

"It's an opportunity for us as Jews to elevate the day for just any old day into something holy," Tindler said.

Micah Hodes, 12, was happy to volunteer.

"I'm doing something useful in my life, other than sitting behind a computer and playing games all day," he said.

David Collins, whose wife is in ICU, told Eyewitness News Wednesday's lunch helps relieve some of the stress of dealing with an ailing spouse.

"I try to talk to her and tell her it's Christmas and I love her, but she's just not responding right now," Collins said.

He refuses to go home and leave his wife alone at the hospital, and said the ICU floor has become his second home. Having a plate of food and a few extra laughs on Christmas means a lot.

"It feels like family just getting together and having a dinner," said Collins. "It's great."

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