Congregation Beth El is kicking-up its level of tikkun olam projects.
In September, Rabbi Jeff Arnowitz initiated a “Mitzvah of the Month” program with the synagogue focusing attention on and supporting a particular cause each month. Congregants and especially BERS (Beth El Religious School) students have responded enthusiastically to these mitzvot.
September featured a non-perishable food drive to benefit the kosher food pantry and other community food pantries. The response was overwhelming as people brought in more donations than in any previous food drives. In October, in honor of Sukkot and the idea of temporary dwellings, congregants brought in blankets and gently used coats to be distributed through The Dwelling Place in Norfolk to those without these essential cold weather items. The collection barrel for blankets and coats was filled and emptied numerous times.
November was dedicated to honoring those who have served in the armed forces as BERS students wrote letters to be distributed to members of the military.
The two December mitzvot are: a blood drive and fulfilling some of the Chanukah wishes of children served by the JFS. Fulfilling the wishes of children and teens who would otherwise do without any gift at Chanukah has been a big hit; the two chanukiyot which had been covered with cards indicating wish-list items are almost barren.
The congregation is excited to continue with the “Mitzvah of the Month” projects, helping members of all ages take part in social action projects.
by Sharon Wasserburg, director of congregational Learning