Repairing the World…One Mitzvah at a Time!

Posted on January 5, 2017 by David Cohen and Jodi Siegal

Shalom Chaverim,

Many thanks to all those who made our Mitzvah Month of November a success! Following are some of the highlights:

On October 30, our joint breakfast program with the Brotherhood was a rousing success. At least 50 congregants attended to hear Assemblymen Jack Ciattarelli and Andrew Zwicker speak on issues of local and state-wide concern, regarding both specific policy challenges and opportunities for repairing the partisan divide in our state. Thanks to all who attended!

Mitzvah Day Blood Drive– Thank you to all of our very patient donors and prospective donors. On Mitzvah Day, we had more potential donors in the door than we have had in a long time. We were able to collect 32 pints of blood, even with the significant delay in starting the drive (a casualty of Daylight Savings, we were told). TBE blood drives are becoming a family affair. Sarah Shapiro, a first-time donor at 16 and a long-time blood drive volunteer, joined her brother Dan and mom Dana on the donation table this year (see photo). We also want to give a shout-out to the Horowitz family – Barry, Wendy and Noah, for making the blood drive a family tradition. Finally, we couldn’t run the drive without our wonderful volunteers. Many thanks to Pat Ward, Barbara and Russ Johnston, Rochelle Levin, Brady Feuer, Sarah Shapiro, Luis Stanley, and Amy Rubin.

 Youth Culture– Way to go, Rachel Frish! Our temple teens were able to make 10 knot blankets. In collaboration with the Sisterhood, the teens also collected other items, which were distributed along with the blankets on their Midnight Run in New York City in December.

Religious School– Thank you, Melissa Pyle, and your student helpers – Colin Mandell, Sammy Fromberg, Josh Worman, and Katrina Papierman – for facilitating the URJ’s Nothing But Nets fundraising activity. It looked like a beautiful morning for some basketball. All the contributions from our religious school students will go to the URJ to help buy mosquito nets to send to places in Africa plagued by malaria.

 Knitting Group – Scarves were started for later donation to the Midnight Run and for other TBE warm winter wear collections.

 Sisterhood – The dedicated Sisterhood members, led by Cindy Scott, coordinated two drives to help the needy in our communities. The rummage collection they held on Mitzvah Day yielded 10 bags of warm clothing to support SMOOCHY’s Midnight Run, 30 bags and boxes of household items to support The Giving Network, and over 80 bags and boxes of clothing to support Big Brothers and Big Sisters. Later in the month, Sisterhood’s food drive for Thanksgiving, coordinated by Carol Ahlert and Barbara Johnston, provided Thanksgiving meals for 20 IHN families and 40 Homesharing households. (See the related pictures with the Sisterhood article on page 21.)

Brotherhood – Thanks to President Bryan BenDavid and his six volunteers, who spent a very productive morning restocking shelves at the Somerset County Food Bank’s warehouse facility. They made a big contribution at a busy time of year for the food bank.

Kathy Shanklin’s recycled items – Passersby in the lobby chose from a selection of hand-crafted items provided by our multi-talented musical accompanist, all made from 100% recycled materials. Thanks, Kathy, for your inspiring example!

Choir – The adult choir brought their wonderful spirit to the Brookdale Assisted Living facility in Hillsborough, and shared a variety of beautiful and uplifting musical selections.

IHN – Volunteer training was attended by a few enthusiastic new recruits. Thanks, Leigh Freeman and Karen Donohue, for making this important program available!

Advocacy – Thanks to our guests from the Eastern Service Workers Association, who educated many congregants regarding the plight of workers in this low-paid and benefit-poor segment of the economy. We hope to team with them on projects in the future. Also, thanks to Liz Cohen for helping congregants get in touch with their local representatives on hot legislative topics of the day.

Mitzvah Month concluded with our annual interfaith Thanksgiving service, supporting IHN while sharing our gratitude for all our blessings.

Coming up, please join us for the annual Social Action Service on Friday, January 20. In honor of Martin Luther King Day, we are planning a visiting speaker, who will address issues of “welcoming the stranger” in these times of uncertainty and growing world-wide security concerns.

If you would like to become more involved with the Social Action Committee, please reach out to either one of us: david@decarchitect.com or jsdegonzalez@gmail.com.

Ani v’atah n’shaneh et ha olam– together we can change the world!

David Cohen and Jodi Siegal

Social Action Co-chairs

Originally published in the January-February 2017 issue of the Shofar. For more issues of the Shofar, visit the Shofar archives