Social Action at Temple Aliyah
“In a free society, although each person
may not be guilty, all are responsible"
(Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel)
Inspired by the Jewish tradition of engaging in mitzvot dedicated to tikkun olam, the Social Action Committee provides opportunities to learn about, and inspire action, in response to Jewish issues of social justice that occur on local, national and international levels. Members of the synagogue participate in a variety of exciting projects, with opportunities for short-term and longer commitments.
The Social Action Committee welcomes new committee members and volunteers for its various programs. For further information about the Social Action Committee and to volunteer to participate in any of these projects, contact the program coordinator identified below or the co-chairs of the Social Acton Committee, Judy Lee or David Harris. For information about social action in the Religious School, contact Jennifer Rudin, our Director of Education, or Marla Simon.
Read Reach Out, the newsletter of the Temple Aliyah Social Action Committee. Please look in your email for our upcoming issues with important dates and opportunities.
Listed below are the on-going and date-specific programs for 2012-2013:
The Social Action committee of Temple Aliyah offers many, many opportunities to Temple members of all ages, ranging from one-time programs to longer commitments. We have programs for young children, families, adults, teens…you name it, we have great programs available. Yes, you CAN make a difference.
Greater Boston Food Bank
Teams of Temple Aliyah volunteers have helped sort food items at the Greater Boston Food Bank, which provides meals for those in need in the Greater Boston area. GBFB is the principal source of food for all the local food pantries and soup kitchens in the state and the operation in a massive new warehouse in South Boston. Besides being fun and satisfying, the efforts are an easy and meaningful way to give something back to the community in which we live and the money the food bank saves goes directly into providing more meals. The next opportunities to volunteer with Temple Aliyah at the GBFB will be on April 10th, 2013 from 5:30 to 8pm and then on June 12th (same times); we hope you can join us. Contact Hal Bryer for more information.
Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy
Temple Aliyah will begin its 15th year in the Coalition’s program, sending trained reading tutors to the Philbrick Elementary School in Roslindale. Temple members receive extensive training from professionals provided by the Greater Boston Jewish Coalition for Literacy. Our team members tutor children in reading techniques one-on-one in grades K-3 to bring the children up to grade level. Participation requires a commitment of one hour or two hours per week, plus training. Tutor training sessions are given at least twice during the school year. Look for information in the Pulse and through flyers, or email Judy Varon or call 781-444-3812.
Family Table is the response of the Greater Boston Jewish community to the needs of Jewish area families who cannot afford the basic necessities of life. Family Table collects food, paper goods, personal hygiene items, as well as Shabbat candle, challah, and ritual items appropriate to various Jewish holidays. Temple Aliyah collects food throughout the year and delivers it to the Family Table food pantry located at 1430 Main Street in Waltham. This year, we are responsible for collecting 45 cans of kosher soup per month and 45 packages of whole wheat pasta per month. We CAN do it! Once a month or more, please remember Family Table when you do your shopping and bring your donations of kosher soup and pasta when coming to synagogue. Please leave them in the boxes outside the synagogue office in the Temple's Religious School lobby. For further information, or to help with the distributions that take place the first Sunday of each month in Waltham, contact Marla Simon. We also packed and delivered groceries from Family Table on Sunday November 4, 2012 and Sunday February 3rd 2013. Please plan to join in next year.
Serving Food for the Homeless
Families with children ages 10 and older are needed year-round to set up and serve food at Woods Mullen, Long Island or other shelters. This year Temple Aliyah served food on October 14, January 27 and March 17. Please contact Judy Lee to sign up for future dates or contact Amie Guerra if you would like to serve food on any other date. Volunteers are also needed throughout the year at the Boston Rescue Mission. Please contact Thao Tran.
Walker School Adopt-a-unit
The Walker School on Central Avenue has a number of programs to serve children who need emotional support and each year Temple Aliyah volunteers have joined them for bingo on Mitzvah Day. This year we are adopting a unit and will join them for about 2 hours on a Sunday afternoon once per month. If you would like to work with these loving but needy children, contact Marty Lipman for more information.
Shabbat with the Elderly
Welcome Shabbat on the first and second Friday of each month with residents of Needham's assisted living facilities. All you have to do is show up--candlesticks, kippot, booklets, challah and juice are located on site. It's a wonderful, fulfilling activity for adults of any age, families with children, and fun to do with friends who want to do a mitzvah together. Contact Sharon Levy.
Circle of Hope
Consider volunteering to help Circle of Hope fulfill its mission of serving individuals and families living in homeless shelters, as well as those in transition and struggling for independent lives. You can deliver goods to local Boston-area shelters; sort donated clothing at Circle of Hope, conveniently located in Needham; and donate goods (new or gently used clothing for babies, children, women and men). Evening sorting opportunities for temple members are another fun way to get involved and be part of the circle of hope for people in need. For volunteer opportunities and donation inquiries, contact Judy Lee.
This year we will again be providing opportunities for Religious School students to engage in social action projects. The Social Action Committee has arranged one or two projects for each grade, to be offered during regular class time. Each project has been developed to combine teaching about acts of kindness (gemilut hasadim) and mitzvot with the opportunity to do something hands-on. Contact Jennifer Rudin or Marla Simon for more information.
Teen Social Action Projects
There are many opportunities for teens to get involved in social action projects and do tikkun olam, help to repair the world. Look for upcoming notices of projects for teens. Many of these activities are through the Temple's USY groups. Please encourage your teens to join their fellow teens in these activities. Contact our Youth Director, Hinda Eisen.
Support of Jewish Service Men and Women in the US Military
Over the last few years, the Men’s Club has teamed with Captain Gary Davidson, son of two of our founding members and an Air Force chaplain, to support and remember our Jewish men and women serving overseas. During his deployments in Qatar, Afghanistan and German, Men’s Club has sent him kosher for Passover food and treats in the spring, supplies for Chanukah parties in the winter, gift cards and holiday greeting cards made by our religious school students.
Ongoing collection of tzedakah from congregants attending minyan services. Funds are donated to local organizations on an as-needed basis. Organizations include the Needham Community Council, Yad Chesed, and the Pine Street Inn.
Yad Chessed March
During Purim services each year, Temple members fulfill the mitzvah of giving tzedakah during the holiday. Temple Aliyah contributes this money to Yad Chessed, a greater Boston area project that buys coupons from the Butcherie in Brookline at a discount and distributes them to needy Jewish families. Collections are made at the Purim services or you can send a check to the Temple. Contact Yad Chessed for more information or to donate.
Project Hametz Prior to Passover
Each year before Passover, Temple Aliyah collects hametz and contributes it to the Needham Community Council food pantry (which serves approximately 120 families) and to Family Table. Contact Marla Simon.
Walk for Hunger May 5, 2013
Let’s join together to make Team Temple Aliyah and walk for Project Bread. Information will be provided regarding opportunities for congregants' participation.
Mitzvah Day May 5, 2013
A day organized by the social action committee that provides numerous opportunities to engage in mitzvoth that benefit others. Activities range from working on a local environmental project, cooking/serving dinner to the homeless, engaging with the elderly and developmentally disabled, and creating scrapbooks for Alzheimer’s patients.
Kol Nidre Food Drive Erev Yom Kippur
Upon entering synagogue for the Kol Nidre service, congregants are asked to bring non-perishable kosher foods that are then delivered to Family Table.
Holiday Gift Drive December
Anuual collection of Hanukkah gifts for children of JF&CS as well as Christmas gifts for children at the Walker School in Needham. Contact Sheryl Dubin.
Project Ezra Christmas Day
Congregants are asked to help serve Christmas dinner at Boston-area homeless shelters, Contact Judy Steinberg.
Mitzvah Centerpiece booklet
The social action committee developed this resource to provide information on what “mitzvah centerpieces” are, why people choose them, and how one can begin and execute the process. Mitzvah centerpieces may be used in lieu of other more expensive table centerpieces, such as flowers, to decorate tables at your special simcha. These centerpieces often contain goods (e.g., food pantry items, animal shelter necessities) that are then donated after your event to the charity of your choice. They demonstrate your awareness and commitment to social justice issues, decorate your tables, AND help others. Get the booklet here .
Donating Leftover Food
If you have leftover food and/or paper products from your simcha, and you are interested in donating them for immediate use by our hungry and homeless neighbors in the Boston area, please consider donating to Bristol Lodge Soup Kitchen. Large quantities of food (i.e., food that will feed at least 15-20 people) will be picked up by Bristol Lodge staff; otherwise, leftovers may be dropped off at their facility in Waltham. Please find all the details on the flyer in the temple kitchen or download it here.
Other social action activities at Temple Aliyah, which are described on their own webpages:
- strengthen our bond with Israel (Kesher Committee)
- provide caring support to Temple members in times of need, including knitting healing shawls for those who are ill and/or undergoing some form of treatment (Hesed Committee).