Freedom's Feast is an interactive, web-based civics program that uses major holiday celebrations in our American calendar to raise the next generation of citizens.
We believe that national holidays are a gift. With Freedom’s Feast, participants learn new ways to explore and participate in our American democratic tradition. Instead of diving straight into the food and shopping that most of us associate with our holidays, we offer another kind of feast. We believe that children can fill up on new memories as we pass on the stories, values and behaviors we care about to the next generation of American citizens and leaders. Freedom’s Feast helps participants to connect heart, mind, and hand in the act of citizenship.
Lee M. Hendler is a founder, the project director, and principal writer of Freedom's Feast. Ms. Hendler is a philanthropist, educator, and civic activist. The proud grandmother of six, Ms. Hendler is a trustee emerita of the Johns Hopkins University, author of "The Year Mom Got Religion," and served as program consultant to the Children's Museum of Manhattan on "Raising Citizens." Past president of several boards, she has also taught courses for funders and foundation leaders. Ms Hendler lives in Baltimore where, among other things, she takes care of a rambunctious Rhodesian Ridgeback who is nearly as big as she and is current President and Co-founder of the Jewish Grandparents Network.
Lawrence Neinstein, MD, FACP was a founder, executive editor, and contributing writer of Freedom's Feast. Dr. Neinstein was a professor of pediatrics and medicine at the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine. A member of the USC faculty from 1979-2015, he was also the executive director of the USC University Park Health Center and senior associate dean of student affairs. Dr. Neinstein received the Society of Adolescent Medicine Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. We truly miss his creative spirit. Larry passed away in 2016. He authored and was senior editor of six editions of "Adolescent Health Care, A Practical Guide".
Dr. Ron Wolfson is a founder, executive editor and contributing writer of Freedom's Feast. A visionary leader of American Jewry and inspirational speaker, Ron travels the world telling his entertaining and motivational stories of family, community and spiritual discovery. He is the Fingerhut Professor of Education at American Jewish University, a co-founder of Synagogue 3000, and author of "Relational Judaism: Using the Power of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community," and his newest book, "The Best Boy in the United States of America: A Memoir of Blessings and Kisses." He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Susie, and eats frozen yogurt just about every day.
Our wonderful illustrations are the work of talented illustrator, Christine Larsen. The initial design of the majority of documents on our site are the wonderful work of Ellen Kahan Zager.
History of Partnerships & Collaboration
During the Gulf War of 1991, friends Lawrence Neinstein, MD and Dr. Ron Wolfson saw the need to add greater substance to the outpouring of patriotism surrounding the war effort. Larry and Ron began to consider how Thanksgiving could give families a way to celebrate our country's history and principles. A decade later, the tragic events of September 11, 2001 gave new urgency to the concept of gathering and giving thanks for America's freedoms. Ron shared their original ideas with friend, philanthropist and author Lee Meyerhoff Hendler. Freedom's Feast was launched in November 2001 with a national pilot of 4000 participants. The name of the project then was "We the People Give Thanks." Stuart King, a consultant and big fan of the effort suggested "Freedom's Feast" a couple of years later.
Freedom’s Feast has worked with a number of distinguished institutions including the Center for the Study of Democracy at St. Mary’s College, the US Constitution Center and Episcopal School in Philadelphia, and the National Association of Parenting Publications. More recently, Freedom’s Feast partnered in an extensive civics initiative called “Raising Citizens” with the Children’s Museum of Manhattan (CMOM). Our expanded calendar of celebrations led to a multi-year partnership with Baltimore’s Kipp Ujima Academy.
The second year of our Kipp collaboration featured an interactive classroom ceremony experience, home exercises that encourage intergenerational discussions and story-telling, actions based on the civic value highlighted by the holiday and the creation of a unique keepsake that embodies the commitment each student makes to the value studied and discussed. Baltimore’s "Art with a Heart" worked with Freedom’s Feast to adapt and create keepsake activities, a concept inspired by CMOM "Raising Citizens" arts activities.
Our most recent partnerships with schools in the Baltimore County School system and the Reginald F. Lewis Museum demonstrated that Freedom’s Feast is a highly adaptable and valuable resource. It provides educators and institutions with fresh materials and methods for engaging families and students in civics, history, and family story-telling.