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The Formation of Social Justice Programs

Thank you for attending the “Call to Conscience” at Temple Beth Avodah last month. Frankly we were overwhelmed by the positive responses we received and have been working diligently to capitalize on that enthusiasm by getting some of the projects we discussed up and running already. We have also been talking to the Temple Board and the chairs of all of our Standing Committees to ensure that we can integrate our initiative to support victims of Domestic Violence into the work of these groups as appropriate. We are so pleased that we’ve already made progress on that goal. The Women of TBA’s event on November 16 will include a collection of gift cards from Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond for victims and their families. And the Brotherhood is hosting a Men’s Health Forum on November 29 that will feature a speaker about the men’s role in combating Domestic Abuse.

Our primary goal is to offer as many options to get involved as possible for as many people as possible. Leave your comments in the section provided below, we are interested to know if you think we’ve been able to do that.

We are also writing to let you know about the projects that have started and encourage you to get involved:

  • We are thrilled that Debbie Hart-Klein has stepped up to take the lead on a cooking project to make dinners every other month for clients of The Second Step during their group therapy sessions. In addition to making the meals we also need volunteers to shop for the groceries and deliver the dinners to one of the agency’s residences (both are in Newton). This is a great project for families with children and we are going to present the project at the Grade 6 & 7 Mitzvah Showcase on November 14 (5:15-6:00 p.m.) if you want to learn more.

  • Our Home in a Box project is also ready to go. Visit our registry of home supplies here. The goal of this project is to provide victims of domestic violence with necessary items to start a new household, ranging from toilet paper and cleaning supplies to bedding and dishes. Many of these families may have left their abusers with nothing and we want to make them feel comfortable in their new homes. In addition to donating from the registry where the purchases will be shipped directly to the Temple, people can get involved by purchasing gift cards from Target or Bed, Bath and Beyond so that families can chose their own necessities. We need volunteers to help sort the items when they arrive at the Temple so that each family receives a variety of supplies as needed as well as volunteers who are willing to deliver the boxes to The Second Step or Journey to Safety (a JF&CS agency) when the agencies have families ready to move. We are pleased that Bunny Aronson has agreed to help lead this project.

Join us for a meeting on Tuesday, November 15 at 7:00 p.m. to start planning some hands-on projects. We have a number of people interested in leading a project to do cleaning and light rehabilitation on rooms within The Second Step’s transitional housing residences. There is also a project to provide babysitting for children living at The Second Step as well as opportunities to provide tutoring for children as needed. If you are interested in helping to lead any of these projects, please feel free to contact the temple if you want to volunteer in the future. We’ll keep you updated as the projects progresses.

We are planning a schedule for education and awareness programming. This aspect of our initiative can be perhaps the most impact. Just learning about the warning signs of Domestic Violence and prevention efforts can and will change lives immeasurably. Since the Advisory Committee started learning about Domestic Violence last spring, it has had an effect. Every day in the newspaper or magazines, we now notice evidence of how widespread this “epidemic” really is. And the myth that “this doesn’t happen in the Jewish community” has been profoundly debunked no more so than by our brave speaker last month who is not only Jewish but grew up in Newton and at Temple Beth Avodah. She spoke again at a fundraiser for Journey to Safety a few days after our event (Rabbi Stern spoke there too with an impassioned story of his childhood and we are trying to get a video of it so stay tuned) and focused on the point that looking back on her marriage, there were signs of abuse that others in her life saw even as she wasn’t ready to see them yet. The more we educate ourselves, the better able we will be to see trouble in our own lives or in those of our friends and family. If you are interested in leading or working on this area of programming, please let us know. We will be setting up a meeting in the near future to get this project started.

Finally, we fully expect that there will be members of our community who will begin to understand their own situations differently as we start to delve into these important issues and projects and we are ready to help there as well. As always, our clergy and the Temple’s professional staff are good listeners, but we also have professionally trained resources willing and able to field individual’s questions and help them figure out how to get the services they need.

Again, we want to thank you for your interest, dedication and participation so far. Our goal at the end of the first year of our initiative is not only to help as many victims of Domestic Violence as we can in as many ways as possible, but more so to get as many congregants, young and old, to participate in whatever way you are comfortable. Feel free to contact Jeff Tarmy, Eve Tapper or Rabbi Stern if you have any questions. Someone else is bound to want the same answer. We look forward to working with all of you over the next year!

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