Tikkun Olam Spotlight: Spring 2019

Jane Bergen and Nancy Siegal with the toys (and other needed goods) collected for Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. on Sisterhood Shabbat. Photo courtesy of Lenore Garon

Our Temple, Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim of Cranford, New Jersey, has been collecting money for the Crop Walk for many years. Crop Hunger Walks are sponsored by Church World Services.

Our Crop Walk helps people by raising money to end hunger in our community and around the world. In Cranford, all the churches and our Synagogue participate in the walk. Paula Figman, Renee Herz, and Harriet Mazur represent our Temple for this activity.

Crop Hunger Walks have raised over $300 million to help people feed their families around the world and in our community. The activity supports local food banks and our Temple gives money to Mazon, a Jewish response to hunger: An American non-profit working to end hunger among people of all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and in Israel.

We also collect money at our Temple when people come for their High Holiday tickets.

Thank you, Marlene Oslick and Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim for submitting this project!

Our sisterhood has several long-running social action programs:

  • We collect toiletries for a local homeless shelter year-round.
  • We prepare and serve Christmas dinner at the same shelter. At that time, we also provide gift cards for shelter residents to use for immediate personal needs, including medications, clothing, school supplies, etc.
  • Two of our members coordinate a year-round program for which individual Sisterhood members prepare meals for the same shelter.
  • We send packages to Jewish residents of local nursing homes at Rosh Hashanah, Chanukah, and Purim.
  • We collect toys and other needed items for Children’s National Medical Center in honor of Sisterhood Shabbat.
  • We sponsor a no-cost bi-monthly Seniors’ program, with lunch and a speaker, advertised to our own members and the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center seniors, but open to anyone who wants to attend.
  • One of our Board positions is a standing representative to the Alexandria Board of Lady Managers, which raises funds for the local hospital.
  • We do not charge for Sisterhood brunches, and generally they are open to the entire community (Jewish or not), at which we often bring in speakers on matters of general public interest.
  • We occasionally have special collections of various kinds, for the local food bank, or to collect undergarments and sanitary supplies for a local women’s shelter

Additionally, Agudas Achim’s Social Action Committee selected the mitzvah of hachnasat orchim, “welcoming the stranger,” as a theme for this year. Some of its members were familiar with Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, a national organization seeking to build bridges between Jewish and Muslim women to combat negative stereotyping and prejudice. Together, they and we sponsored a Sunday brunch in which Jewish and Muslim women from SOSS were invited to give a presentation. The SOSS members showed an inspiring film of an SOSS trip Jewish and Muslim women took to visit important points of civil rights history in the American South, and then we had a panel discussion where Jewish and Muslim members explained how their group was formed, and how their individual chapters work. It was our most popular brunch of the year, bringing in over 100 members of our synagogue (Sisterhood members and others), and some guests from outside, as well.  All of our brunches are open to the entire Agudas Achim community, without charge.

Photos from the Agudas Achim joint Sisterhood-Social Action Committee brunch, with a video and panel presentation by Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, an organization that builds bridges between Jewish and Muslim women in America. Photo courtesy of Lenore Garon.

Every year, in connection with Sisterhood Shabbat, we collect toys and other items needed by Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., a hospital that treats children, some with very serious illnesses requiring long-term care.  We use the baskets filled with donations as bima decorations, in lieu of flowers.

Projects submitted by Lenore Garon of Agudas Achim Congregation in Alexandria, VA.

For more information on how your sisterhood can be featured in a future Tikkun Olam Spotlight, e-mail Erica Slutsky at eslutsky@wlcj.org.

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