Omaha Jewish community thanking first responders working Christmas Day

WOWT 6 News 10 p.m. Sunday newscast
Published: Dec. 25, 2022 at 5:04 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - This year, the seventh day of Hanukkah overlaps with Christmas Day, and members of the Jewish community in Omaha are taking time to celebrate with others and thank those who are working on the holiday.

“We like to give back to the community and we like to perform mitzvahs in the community - good deeds,” says Ian Yellin.

Sunday, Ian Yellin and his family were some of the dozens who set out to thank first responders and essential workers for taking care of the metro on Christmas.

“We also don’t have anything else going on today, we’re just sitting at home, might as well help out,” says Ian’s wife, Tamar. “We know that that’s really hard to be away from their families so we do bring a lot of fresh baked and packaged goods. Service is always important.”

This is the second year Ian and Tamar, along with their kids, Maeve and Connor, have participated in the event, Operation Grateful Goodies.

The Yellin family made several deliveries, including to the Millard Airport where air medics are ready in case of emergencies.

“We’ve had just one flight today so far,” says one of the flight medics during the Yellin family’s short visit.

The Christmas day event is organized by Chabad of Nebraska, the Jewish Federation of Omaha, and The Miriam Initiative of Beth El.

“It’s Christmas day, it’s not our holiday but everything is closed, so it’s just an awesome opportunity to take advantage of being able to give back,” says Linda Saltzman, Chairman of Operation Grateful Goodies.

Saltzman says this is the fifth year they’ve hosted the event, and this year volunteers made stops at 112 locations across the metro.

“Every fire station in town, every police station in town, even emergency vets, we’re going to the control tower at Eppley airfield,” Saltzman says, listing just a few.

The Yellin family says it’s special when Hanukkah and Christmas overlap, but it’s even more special to teach their kids to give back.

“I think just that, setting a good example for them,” Tamar says.” “They asked us in the car ‘why are we doing this?’ Because we need to give back to people, it’s important that people are working today and not home with their families so it is important to tell them that’s worth it to everybody, and that’s a good thing.”