Social Action: Healing the World
Social Action and Community Service Committee
Mitzvah Day 2013 Sunday May 19 10:30 – 11:30 am
This year Mitzvah Day will join with the last day of Religious school celebration and events.
Parents, students, teachers and all other Oseh members are invited to practice Tikkun Olam by helping with any of the Mitzvot below:
Working in the Oseh garden, the results of which are donated to the Elizabeth House Soup Kitchen
Planting caladium bulbs to beautify the Oseh atrium
Packing lunches for homeless guest at Elizabeth House
Collecting and sorting clothes, sheets and blankets for the winter homeless shelter Oseh hosts
Collecting and decorating care packages with treats and food for animals at Friskies and Small Miracles pet shelters
Decorating vases; making flowers and place mats for Jewish local assisted living residents
Making get well cards and care pillows for the sick at Laurel Hospital
There will be food OF COURSE!!!!! Yummy treats following the Mitzvot activities.
If you have any questions or ideas please contact:
- Felicia Dannack-Friedman email@example.com
- Judy Swanner firstname.lastname@example.org
- Linda Bergofsky bergo72@hotm
WinterHaven Shelter for Laurel Homeless
The social action and community service committee really heats up in late January to February when the synagogue holds our largest and most substantial event of the year—the Men and Women's Winter Haven. We need your love, time, energy, and efforts to make this year's Winter Haven the best yet. Join/Get to know homeless members of our community while they are given shelter in our own synagogue. Volunteer by sharing time with our guests or by donating anything you have to give.
The Men’s Winter Haven will take place on February 19-26. For more information contact Eileen Hollander at email@example.com
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We hope you will put these dates on your calendars so that we will see you at these events! Make sure to contact one of us if you are interested or if you have any questions or suggestions. We also serve meal at Elizabeth House at Rte 1 and 198 and collect food all year for LARS. Take part in our Blood Drives and more. Seee below for a more info.
Judy Swanner and Linda Bergosky
Join the Social Action Committee. We welcome your ideas & participation!
- Mini Walk for the Homeless: This is a religious school event scheduled for November 1, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Volunteer to help with the walk or with crafts afterwards. All crafts will be used to beautify the Social Hall for our Winter Haven shelter guests!
- HHD FOOD DRIVE FOR LARS! Please remember to bring non-reishable food items during the High Holy Days. Bins will be placed in the hallway outside the Social Hall and in the Hall Closet. Thank you!!
- Shabbat Services for senior at Riderwood: Please join us! September 10 and 24, 10:45 to noon. Synagogue volunteers hold Shabbat morning services for the Assisted Living Group at Riderwood in Silver Spring on the 2nd & 4th Saturdays of each month. Children are welcome! Please drop by to share Shabbat with the residents. For more information, please contact Allen Shapiro at (301) 591-4359 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Jewish Foundation for Group Homes: Please join us to visit residents at a local home! Join other Oseh Shalom volunteers at an upcoming visit to a group home serving adults with developmental disabilities & chronic mental illness. This can be a very rewarding experience & children are welcome. Contact Eileen Hollander at email@example.com.
- B'nai Mitzvah families! Help the Oseh Shalom Tikkun Olam mission—the repair of our world. We can help you design & plan your mitzvah project! Or, join us in the activities we’ve already planned!
- Middle & high schoolers & Service Learning Hours; Middle and high schoolers can earn SSL hours by participating in some of our tikkun olam activities. Contact Suzie Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Blood Drives. BLOOD DONATIONS NEEDED: Save a life!Please plan on coming out to donate. It’s quick & easy. For more information & to sign up to donate, please contact Carolyn Makovi at (301) 236-4411 or email@example.com. **Please note: If your doctor has you taking a daily aspirin tablet, do NOT stop taking it before the blood drive. This is a change from what you may have been told previously.
- Fundraising Help Needed: EH is looking for volunteers to assist with fundraising efforts, request-for-donation letters, and writing thank you notes to donors. Contact Steve Sternheimer (410) 992-5669 or firstname.lastname@example.org
- Soup kitchen volunteers: Volunteers needed to assist and serve meals in the soup kitchen the first Monday of each month. Contact Carolyn Makovi (301) 236-4411 or Kara Weinstein at email@example.com. School-aged children are welcome with parents. Please let Carolyn or Steve know in advance if you are coming if possible.
- Food Donations: We need items for lunch bags for the homeless such as juice boxes/drinks, cookies, chips, fruit, and other lunchy items. Contact Kara Weinstein at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
- Having a party at The Great Room at Savage Mill? Donate your leftover food to Elizabeth House.
Laurel Advocay & Referral Service (LARS)
- Bring your non-perishable food donations to Oseh during the HHD canned food drive! LARS continues to need our help. Please place donations in the marked bins located in the synagogue coat closet.
- Sort food in the food pantry. A wonderful mitzvah for individuals and families! We plan to sort cans on the third Sunday of each month at noon: September 20, October 18, November 15, and December 20. We usually spend 60 to 90 minutes at LARS sorting the donations and stocking the shelves. (LARS is just 15 minutes down the road in Laurel).
WinterHaven Shelter Program at Oseh
Winter Haven is a temporary winter shelter that provides overnight shelter to homeless adults from December thru March. The shelter rotates to many different religious institutions in the Laurel area, including Oseh Shalom. Oseh Shalom has participated in this worthwhile effort for the last 12 years. In past years, Winter Haven has provided shelter only to men. Beginning two years ago, shelter was also provided to women. Volunteers are needed to serve as chaperones and drivers, to provide food and other needed items, to assist with set-up and take-down and to provide evening entertainment or other activities. If you want to help out, please contact Eileen Hollander email@example.com for the men’s shelter and Debbie Tarash firstname.lastname@example.org for the women’s shelter.
- SMALL SUITCASES, DUFFEL BAGS, OR GYM BAGS FOR THE WINTER HAVEN SHELTER PROGRAM. Please donate items in good condition for our Winter Haven guests. Both women and men will be able to use these items to store their belongings. Please contact Suzie Friedman for pick up or delivery. Suzie.email@example.com
- *new* COOKING FOR WINTERHAVEN. The Winterhaven shelter program will here again in January and Februrary. We are looking for volunteers to help in Jan and Feb to prepare foods for our guests! Contact Eileen Hollander at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about any program contact Linda Bergofsky or Judy Swanner
by Rabbi Amy Scheinerman
Should our children see the "seamier" side of life? Should we expose them to people whose lives and choices are other than those of which we approve? How much suffering should a young child see and what affect will it have on him or her?
In every generation, parents worry about what their children should and should not experience. Recently, reticence to expose children to extreme poverty, suffering, or poor personal choices was brought to my attention. I was asked by a congregation to lead a discussion for parents on the merits of permitting young children to participate in a Mitzvah Day program, even when it meant exposure to teenage single mothers, drug addicts recuperating from their addictions, and homeless people in a soup kitchen. "Will my children be scarred from this exposure?" a parent had asked, triggering others to ask similar questions.
On a Sunday morning I sat among a circle of parents, all devoted, well-educated, caring people, and told them that not only would their kids be okay, but they would become mentshes and stronger people for their participation in Mitzvah Day. I shared with them some of my own children's experiences, but mostly I gave them this advice: it is not so much what your children see on Mitzvah Day, but how you help them assimilate what they see into their moral value system, that matters.
If children help to feed people in a soup kitchen, the message they should learn is: no one should go hungry, and we Jews are obligated to obliterate hunger in the world. If children plant flowers at a home for unwed teenage mothers, the message they should receive is: even when people make wrong and irresponsible behavioral choices, they deserve care, respect and help to improve their lives. If children stock the food pantry at a homeless shelter, the message they absorb is: having a home is a basic human right and when people fall on hard times, I can be part of the solution.
Pain is a part of life. We do not do our children a favor when we shield them from all pain indiscriminately. They must learn to deal with pain, both theirs and the pain of others.
My 10-year-old daughter has, for the past two years, volunteered each week at an assisted living center near our home. She was initially paired up with a woman whom she visited weekly, but in the course of her visits, she became very attached to a gentleman there with whom she took walks and with whom she shared many happy moments.
When he died last autumn and she did not learn about his death for a week, she was devastated. She felt that a part of her had died. She grieved deeply. Yet even in her grief she learned that she is blessed with a supportive and loving family that cradled her through her mourning, and supportive teachers at school who let her know that they understood her grief.
A month later, my daughter's woman companion also died after a lengthy stay in the hospital. In this case, because the family was Jewish, they notified my daughter immediately. She attended the funeral, went to shiva, and attended a weekday minyan in addition to say Kaddish. From these experiences she learned the magic and value of Jewish mourning rituals to help a soul grieve. She also drew closer to her companion's family, whom she now sees regularly in synagogue, and this has also been a good experience.
I was afraid that my daughter might find her work at the assisted living center too painful and too risky, but I was wrong: her response to these two losses was to double her time spent there each week.
Another daughter worked at a soup kitchen in downtown Baltimore with her youth group. "I never worked so hard in my life!" she reported when she came home and literally collapsed in the family room. "I can barely move. When can I go back?" Did she like the work? No; it was unpleasant, noisy, difficult work and while most of the people being served were very nice, a few of the men were less than appropriate (though not at all dangerous). Why, then, did she want to return? "I was needed and I really accomplished something," she said.
I know a 12-year-old girl who took her friends to help for a day with children who have AIDS. Sure, they were hesitant at first, but they learned the great joy of giving that day.
I know an 8-year-old who asked her friends to bring arts and crafts supplies to donate to the children's floor of the local hospital in lieu of birthday gifts when they came to her party. My son and I had the privilege of accompanying her when she brought the supplies to the hospital; this was clearly the highlight of her birthday celebration.
I know a 10-year-old whose parents give him money to buy homeless people lunch when he passes them walking through the city. Can he feed every homeless person? No, but he has learned that he may not bypass every homeless person either.
Our children do not want to live, nor are they better people for living, behind insulated walls of an idealized childhood. The real world is all around them, and the more they contribute to solving the very real and horrific problems in our society, the stronger and more compassionate they will be, the more they will learn about themselves, and the more they will care about others.
Our children must learn that hope is a necessity, not a luxury, and that compassion and justice are the most essential guideposts for any society. The only way to learn these lessons is to roll up your sleeves and get involved.
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