On Saturday November 17, 2012, Pacifica Institute OC hosted its 6th Annual Thanksgiving Dinner in its new location. This year’s theme was "Don't forget your neighbor on Thanksgiving!" as last year.
The event turned out to be a great success with over 180 guests from different faiths and backgrounds. The dinner started at 6:30 after the official welcome by Pacifica Institute. The dinner tables were so colorful bringing together a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and a zest of Turkish food. Guests conversed with each other while enjoying delicious turkey with mashed potato, rice, salad, side dishes and a range of desserts along with live piano music by Rabia Barlas.
The dinner featured short speeches by Rabbi Larry Seidman; Jannah Scott, Deputy Director, US Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships; Ozkur Yildiz, President of West America Turkic Council; John Riley, Founding President, DEA Citizens’ Academy; and Dr. Sheryl Monaughan
First, Rabbi Larry Seidman stressed the importance of peace among nations and people of different faiths when thousands of people are dying every day in Middle East. He stated that we should thank God for bread which is very important to us and for the blessing of sharing bread at the same dinner table with people of different backgrounds.
Then, Deputy Director Jannah Scott was invited to the stage for her speech. Scott started her speech stating that she joined the dinner on behalf of President Obama as the government pays special attention to support organizations that promote faith-based partnerships with its thirteen agencies in the country. She pointed out that Pacifica Institute’s activities that bring people together to share with and learn about each other have been very important to strengthen Turkish-American alliance and promote interfaith based dialog. She reminded the victims of the super storm Sandy in the Northeast and thanked all people who came together to help them recover. She continued her talk by asking everyone to remember and thank their neighbors who are veterans or are currently working in armed forces. She also reminded guests to thank those who bring meaning to our lives and to remember our neighbors and friends who have lost a loved one. She also mentioned to remember our neighbors who may not be having a Thanksgiving dinner in this harsh economic situation and to invite them to Thanksgiving dinners offered by charity or faith-based organizations. Finally, she invited guests to thank our Sustainer for every blessing he provided us with.
After Scott’s remarks, guests viewed two short videos about the history of Pacifica Institute and the Anatolian Cultures and Food Festival while they were enjoying their desserts with Turkish tea.
Mr.Ozkur Yildiz, President of West America Turkic Council, was invited to the stage. He thanked to volunteers who have helped the Sandy victims and he reminded that Pacifica Institute is organizing a donation campaign for them. He later stated that he was thankful for struggles we face in our lives as they make us stronger and wiser and teach us that we have to share. He later mentioned that Thanksgiving is a holiday that brings a perfect time for the families and friends to gather and inspire all of them to give thanks to the Almighty as Abraham Lincoln stated in the proclamation of the day of Thanksgiving in 1863. He stated that shuqr- thanksgiving is mentioned in the Quran 75 times and being thankful will increase bounties bestowed upon us as God promises us saying, “If you are thankful I will give you more”. Mr.Yildiz stressed that it is a responsibility to share with others and care for others so we should not forget our neighbors. He finished his talk by emphasizing that we should be thankful to God for our wealth, health, intellectual abilities, and life.
John Riley thanked Pacifica for organizing the Thanksgiving dinner and other similar activities and he said he and his wife have always been impressed with Pacifica Institute would continue to support. Finally, Dr. Sheryl Monaughan stated that we should learn to forgive and give thanks to our loved ones, neighbors, and friends.