TZEDEK: PURSUING JUSTICE
“Tzedek” means righteousness or justice. Pursuing justice by helping others and trying to improve the world is central to our mission at TBA and part of who we are as a congregation and as Jews. We each can help pursue justice in ways small and large.
At TBA, we have ongoing projects that we are committed to sustaining, and with which we need your participation.
We also define a social justice theme every few years to enable us to delve deeply into an issue and make a greater impact. We have focused on domestic violence for the past few years. While we continue our volunteer work for a few DV organizations, we now are turning attention to the important issue of immigration. Please watch for notices about education and volunteer opportunities, and please let me know if you have any related ideas or contacts.
Reflecting our dedication to Tzedek, TBA signed the Reform Jewish Movement’s Brit Olam, a formal commitment to help improve the world which gives us access to resources and connects us to a network of like-minded congregations.
Hopefully, one of TBA’s volunteer opportunities will appeal to you and you will join us in our efforts to pursue justice and help make the world better. Please also join us at our Tzedek meetings, which take place approximately every sixth Sunday.
Please periodically check this webpage and our blog dedicated to Tzedek for ongoing updates, schedule of upcoming events, and to see photos of volunteers having fun as they help pursue justice!
Have you ever been in a car that’s running out of gas? the gauge ominously rests flat in the red. You’re sweating with anxiety as you watch the road for a sign of redemption. But there’s no place to pull over. The car jerks as it sucks down the last bit of fuel and vapor… and finally stalls out.
Our nation is stalled on the side of the road. The tank has been emptied by weeks and weeks of Covid19. All the sickness, the angst, the stories, the deaths of over 100,000 Americans… How to stay safe. How to protect others. When to wear a mask. What about gloves? Who can you hug? And what about opening up businesses again? What are the rules? And if that were not enough to deplete the gas tank, there’s the unemployment numbers.
Then: the murder of George Floyd. I watched the bystander video shortly after it was released. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw: a brazen acting out of the awful legacy of racism in our country. No amount of cheering, “USA! USA!” will drown out a grown man’s cry for his mother as he is being tortured and killed by men in uniforms and badges.
What a terribly hard week it has been… the cloud of smoke from protests turned to riots turned to violence and looting mixes with the cloud of pain and sadness that hovers above our nation.
We are stalled on the side of the road. And we can’t call for roadside assistance. No one is coming to save us. The profound lack of leadership and the even more appalling lack of empathy from Washington, force us to find our way forward.
We are the ones who must decry racism and its deep hold on a segment of our nation. We are the ones who must acknowledge the extent to which Black lives have not and do not matter. We are the ones who must decide what the future looks like and how we’ll get back on the road.
Yvonne Abraham recently wrote a fabulous, informative op-ed piece in the Globe. She reminds us that we are all disgusted by the vandalism and looting that occurred in Boston and many other American cities. But if that’s as far as we take it, we will have missed the larger takeaway of this past week. That justice deferred is justice denied. That there is a reckoning, long overdue, that must be acknowledged.
We have to move forward in peaceful dialogue. There is no room for defensiveness or name-calling or finger-pointing. This a time for truth, a central pillar of civilization that has been actively assailed and ignored in recent years. We are the ones who must be brave enough to listen to the ways injustice has ruined lives, has taken lives.
There’s a lethargy that can set in when stalled by the side of the road. It’s scary and overwhelming. But it’s time to start thinking about what we can do now, how to start pushing ourselves in a new direction, and there find the fuel of compassion and understanding.
We’ll figure out how we can do our share in this new period in the life of our country. We will all surely lean into our prophetic tradition, to “do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.” There is a better way — let’s find it.
Here are some links to investigate.
As a community, we’ve embarked on a journey to seek out racial justice. We’ve begun with the work of introspection – understanding who we are, our own biases, the ways our experiences have shaped us. We’re deeply appreciative of our guide, AK Ikwuakor, who has helped us learn how to navigate difficult conversations and steered us to resources to help raise our awareness.
To learn more:
See what inspires us!
Check out our Tzedek blog, in it you will find photos (like the ones shown here) and stories about all of the projects that have taken place at TBA as well as off-site. There are many ways to get involved through Brotherhood, Women of TBA, BAYGL and the Early Learning Center. We list all of our upcoming programs here as well as in the TBA Thursday, RSVP Tuesday, Facebook and more.
* Bring your kids! Starred programs are great options for families!
Cooking for Domestic Violence Organizations*
Temple Beth Avodah has made a commitment to support those impacted by domestic violence in the greater Boston community. We cook and bake for The Second Step (TSS) and REACH Beyond Domestic Violence, as follows:
The Second Step - Every month, we cook dinner in the TBA kitchen that we deliver to TSS for the approximately 35 residents of its two shelters. Please contact Suzy Willard Rosenthal for more information or to volunteer to cook.
REACH Beyond Domestic Violence - We bake desserts and make salads for REACH’s annual holiday party, attended by approximately 350 women and children served by this organization.
Food Pantry Collection*
We continuously collect canned salmon and raisins that we donate monthly to Jewish Family & Children’s Services Family Table. Please drop off items in the bins at both TBA entrances or ship your amazon orders to the Temple office. Contact Amy Eisner with any questions.
TBA Knitting Group
The TBA knitters create shawls, lap blankets, scarves and baby caps for the poor and homeless women served by Rosie’s Place and also as part of our Caring Community outreach to our members in need. All are welcome to drop-in on scheduled Sundays at 10:00 a.m. to knit and nosh! Check the calendar for meeting dates and please just stop by one Sunday or contact Rae Mintz for more information.
High Holiday Food Collection*
We collect non-perishable food from congregants annually between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, which we donate to the Greater Boston Food Bank. We collected over 10,000 pounds of food in 2018, which is similar to our collections in previous years, thanks to our members’ generosity! Contact Hazel Sive if you have any questions about this food collection or want to help her prepare bags and shopping lists before Rosh Hashanah next year.
Twice yearly, we hold a blood drive for congregants and other members of the community to donate blood for the Red Cross.
Christmas at Ruggles*
TBA congregants and friends are invited to volunteer on December 25 at Hearth at Ruggles Assisted Living. Help serve dinner and sing carols to the residents. Email Hazel Sive if you are interested in participating.
Holiday Gift Drive*
We buy gifts to donate to one or more organizations to give to the families and children that they serve. Last year, we sponsored three families served by REACH.
Every year, we march as a group in the Boston Pride Parade, carrying a TBA banner. This is a family-friendly event that helps demonstrate that we are a welcoming and inclusive community to all. Please contact Matthew Miller if you have any questions or would like to get involved with preparations for our participation.
TBA Brotherhood Tzedek: Pursuing Justice Events
The Brotherhood participates in a number of social justice activities, particularly related to our current focus on Domestic Violence causes. They have run cooking projects for The Second Step; held a corn hole tournament to benefit White Ribbon Campaign, a global movement of men and boys working to end male violence against women and girls; and their annual Retreat typically is focused on a social justice issue. Please contact Jeremy Goldfarb or Jeff Tarmy to get involved.
BAYGL’s Social Action Theme
TBA’s high school youth group, BAYGL, focuses on a different social action cause each year to support.
Projects for Children & Families*
TBA kids of all ages participate in numerous Tzedek: Pursuing Justice projects throughout the school year:
Early Learning Center projects including a Thanksgiving food drive, holiday collections, and other age-appropriate opportunities. Contact Heidi Baker for more information.
Visits for all ages to Newbridge on the Charles to sing songs, play games, and celebrate holidays with the residents. Contact Susan Glickman to volunteer.
Grades 6-12 education, awareness, and student-led projects on various social justice themes
Individual family B’nai Mitzvah projects. Contact Myriam Rofrano for more information.
Participation in Temple wide initiatives and programs