Every month we will be highlighting a different topic or initiative by Social Action. In our second edition we are highlighting Social Action initiatives in the month of Elul as we prepare for the High Holidays.
Bet Torah’s social action committee offers a variety of opportunities for congregants to engage in hands-on acts of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”) across four distinct areas: Caring, Community Service, Interfaith Work and Social Justice. The goals of Bet Torah’s social action committee include: caring for congregants at-risk and/or experiencing challenging times; supporting members of Bet Torah’s extended community through collection drives and tzedakah initiatives together with community partners; collaborating and building community with other faith-based groups and houses of worship; and safeguarding people’s human rights, dignity and equality. Bet Torah’s social action programs are coordinated across multiple groups and departments within Bet Torah, and offer inclusive entry points through which congregants of varying ages can participate. These initiatives are developed in response to emerging vulnerabilities, events and crises within our congregation; in our extended community (locally and regionally); and beyond (on a national and global level).
The Caring Committee is co-chaired by Nancy Fried-Tanzer and Paul Rosenfeld. The Committee works in partnership with our clergy to support our congregation in times of need. Our volunteers perform deeds of loving kindness and offer meaningful outreach to guide our community in living a life of spiritual and physical well-being.
COMFORTING THOSE WHO ARE BEREAVED (Nechama)
Volunteers reach out to congregants who have lost a family member and offer a variety of support services following shiva and throughout the year
CARING CONNECTIONS (Lev Echad)
Volunteers visit with congregants who cannot readily come into the synagogue, perhaps limited by age, disability, or other life circumstances. Lev Echad tries to ensure that no congregant feels forgotten or isolated.
COMFORTING THE SICK (Bikur Cholim)
Volunteers contact congregants dealing with serious illness, recovering from injury or surgery, and evaluating if any further support is needed.
The Caring Committee is planning to provide training sessions to give volunteers the tools needed to make a meaningful visit. Every effort is taken to respect congregants’ privacy and confidentiality.
The Caring Committee invites congregants to join our committee and to help in planning and participating in our programs.
New ideas are always welcome!
Contact Caring@bettorah.org or
Nancy Fried-Tanzer or Paul Rosenfeld
We hope our efforts to stay connected offer solace and support. Here are some of our ongoing initiatives:
The Shabbat Meal Program- Bet Torah, through donations has hired Chef Rene Leon to cook Shabbat Meals for congregants who are isolated, especially vulnerable to COVID 19 and physician families who are giving so much during the pandemic. We continue to recruit sponsors and volunteers to make deliveries and financially support this project. True friendships and links have been established among individuals who might never have known each other. Click here to see how you can help.
We Care Soup- The Caring Committee has worked together in the Bet Torah kitchen to make homemade to distribute to those who are recovering from illness or a difficult time.
High Holiday Packages for those in Mourning. Starting a new initiative in 2019, the Caring Committee distributes Yarzheit candles, honey at the High Holiday Season with wishes for added sweetness in the New Year.
Supporting Our Community through Action
Community Service is spearheaded by Michele Posner who can be reached at communityservice @bettorah.org Through our community partners, The Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry, Neighbor’s Link, The Community Center of Northern Westchester, the Emergency Shelter Partnership , Midnight Run, and the NY Blood Bank, we maintain year round programs which offer a meaningful volunteer experience for adults and youth, while providing needed services to the community. The traditional activities have been a drive for School Supplies for the Community Center prior to the opening of school, a food drive linked to the week between Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur for the Food Pantry, a teen/ chaperone midnight run to reach out to the homeless in NYC, an opportunity through ESP to house and feed local homeless population for a week in the Winter at the synagogue, and a blood drive in the Spring. Other opportunities are always emerging. As we have already seen, 2020 poses new challenges to face to face experiences, but we will continue to work with our partners to support meaningful actionable initiatives in our community.
The mission of social justice is to mobilize our community, using Jewish principles of moral righteousness. We operate with respect for the diversity of opinions among our members, as well as respect for the inherent human dignity and worth of every human being. Our Social Justice Committee originated through our first-hand experience of the immigrant in our midst, with our friend and employee at Bet Torah, Armando Rojas. For many, it was an eye opening experience of what immigrants face in our own community. Since then we have partnered with HIAS to explore Jewish initiatives around immigration and refugees. Within our community we support the work of Neighbor’s Link whose mission is to support and integrate immigrants into our community. We plan to continue to partner with UJA and Refugee Shabbat March 5th and 6th 2021. We highlight the events and work of the AJC around this issue.
Under the leadership of Elaine Goth-Merker, firstname.lastname@example.org. Social Justice has expanded its role to highlight and shine a light on other issues. This year Racial Justice and Antisemitism are recognized as being forefront for the committee and our community. Elaine has put together a committee to guide us through our understanding of Racial Justice and to help us engage in anti-racist community activities to fight that injustice.
This promises to be a productive year with programming organized by Elisabeth Schonfeld, Heidi Rieger, Linda Dishner, Margie Orell, Sharon Pollack, and Jeremy and Sarah Wien. For more information, please contact Elaine Gloth Merker at email@example.com or Liz Schonfeld at Lizschon@aol.com
The Interfaith Committee brings together a group of Bet Torah congregants with members of other faith based organizations to share events, information and explore our faiths in a meaningful and respectful manner. It is our hope that through personal interactions and working together we will build bridges that will strengthen our community and create partnerships of understanding and resilience that will unite us. Born out of the Mount Kisco Interfaith Women’s Teas, Sandy Kellogg has forged this initiative. Over its first year, we have met in a group to discuss our religious practices, share ideas and events, and plan further initiatives Some of the events to date have included
- Invitation to join Shabbat services to our interfaith partners
- Celebrating the opening of the Northern Westchester Mosque in Pleasantville New York.
- Interfaith pre-Thanksgiving hands on day at the Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry
- Attendance at AJC sponsored Interfaith Breakfast
- Reading Moving the Mountain A New Vision of Islam in America by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf
- AMWA Events- Understanding Ramadan
- AJC Interfaith Seder- People of Faith Celebrating Freedom
- Yearly Interfaith Women’s Tea at MKPC
- Discussions to further understanding of our religious practices and humanity activities of the group.
If you are interested in finding more out about ongoing activities and events please contact Sandy Kellogg: firstname.lastname@example.org