Sunday, May 28, 2017

social-action-logo

Social Action

This initiative affords opportunities for members of the congregation to fulfill the Jewish mandate for social justice. Activities serve the dual purpose of tikkun olum (repairing the world) and of increasing awareness and understanding of the social and economic injustices in the community. In recent years, the group has focused its efforts on hunger and homelessness, and addresses these challenges in several ways, throughout the year. Key events include food preparation each month, a Social Action Shabbat and Mitzvah Day, clothing drives, Habitat for Humanity, and the food drive during the High Holy Days.

How We Impact Hunger

One Sunday morning each month between September and May, religious school classes and committee members prepare cold meals from foods donated by Temple Beth-El members, including religious school families and committee members. We deliver the food to a local agency, Crossroads Rhode Island, that distributes the sandwiches, packages of carrots and celery sticks, and trail mix to the homeless who might otherwise go hungry on a day when soup kitchens are closed.

During the High Holy Days, we distribute empty grocery bags on Rosh Hashanah and Temple Beth-El members return them with specific foods and other essential items on Yom Kippur. Everything is sorted and distributed to food pantries and soup kitchens in Providence and Pawtucket.

How We Impact Homelessness

On the first Sunday of every month, a coalition of Rhode Island synagogues, established by the late Alan Axelrod of Temple Beth-El, collaborates with Habitat for Humanity to build houses for low-income families. Some dozen or so volunteers spend several hours doing such manual labor as nailing siding outdoors or hanging window blinds indoors. A supervisor organizes the work and volunteers with carpentry and plumbing skills help those without them. Beth-El members aged 16 and older are always welcome. For more information, email socialaction@temple-beth-el.org.

How We Teach Our Children

We emphasize teaching our children the importance of tikkun olum and doing mitzvot as an integral part of our daily lives as 21st century Jews. To this end, an annual Mitzvah Day enables children and parents, along with other synagogue members, to participate in a morning of community service. Religious school students also prepare food for Crossroads Rhode Island on Sunday mornings and sort food donated by the entire congregation on the High Holy Days.

We Celebrate Themes of Social Justice

We sponsor a Social Action Shabbat on the first Friday of May and invite a guest to speak about a key issue affecting Rhode Islanders – such as poverty or homelessness. Congregants learn about issues of social justice and how they might get involved. B’nei mitzvah students display and discuss their Mitzvah Mania projects, a prerequisite to completing their 7th grade in religious school.

How We Address Poverty

We encourage congregants to bring business clothing and accessories (in good condition) on Mitzvah Day to the synagogue. Committee members and others then sort and organize these clothes. The committee delivers the clothes to Dorcas Place, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income men and women enter or re-enter the workplace. Medical uniforms such as scrubs and white shoes are also requested.

We welcome donations of gently used or new clothing, books, toys, and toiletry items for young children and their families. Donations can be delivered to the synagogue between March 1 and Mitzvah Day. On Mitzvah Day, committee members and other congregants sort and organize these items to deliver to the nearby Head Start office for distribution to poor families.

2016 Event Dates

Social Action Brunch