Social Action

Looking for Community Service ideas? Click here for an extensive list!
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CASTE: The Origins of Our Discontents

3-part program coming up in March and April!

In conjunction with BHSS’s Library Committee, we have planned three programs on Zoom based on the Pulitzer prize-winning, Oprah Book Club, and New York Times Best-Seller Caste:  The origins of our Discontents, by Isabel Wilkerson. We highly recommend that you try to read the book (available on Amazon), but you aren’t required to do so in order to join any or all of these programs:

 Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m.

A discussion of the three main caste systems described in the book: India’s, the caste system in the U.S. since slavery, and Nazi Germany’s.  Handouts will be provided in advance to all attendees, and separate breakout discussion sessions after the presentation will be organized around these three caste systems.

Sunday, March 14 at 10:00 a.m.  A LIVE ZOOM BROADCAST FROM INDIA!

Thanks to Ritch Yanowitz, we will be presenting a panel of guests live from India to discuss the caste system in that country: Dr. (Mrs.) Saumitra Chakrowarty is a professor who has lectured and written about the topic of caste. She will discuss gender and caste definitions, and the impact of upper and lower caste covering both men and women through the ages. Pradeep and Patraekha Mukarjee, lifelong residents of India who offer firsthand insight into the caste system. Moloy K. Bannerjeem, an expert in the field who will speak on the origins of the caste system in India.

Thursday, April 8 at 7:30 p.m.

A podcast will be shared of an interview between Oprah Winfrey and Isabel Wilkerson about her historical non-fiction masterpiece CASTE.  More details to follow in BHSS flyers and weekly emails.

Don’t forget BHSS Social Action holds its monthly zoom meetings on the fourth Tuesday of every month at 7:15 p.m.  Email us at [email protected] to get onto our email list and of course with any questions.  Please check the weekly emails, synagogue flyers, and bulletin board for the Zoom links and RSVP deadlines/details for all of the above events.  We look forward to seeing and welcoming all of you to our CASTE programs!

Jonathan Theodore, Lisa Estrin, and Lisa Glick:  BHSS Social Action Committee Chairs

Our Mission Statement

The mission of the Social Action Committee of Beth Haverim Shir Shalom is to serve as an umbrella for all the committees and organizations associated with the congregation that do social justice work in all forms under the auspices of the congregation.

As such, it will inspire coordination and collaboration amongst organizations, promote their work within and outside the congregation, engage members of the congregation at large to participate in social justice opportunities and advocate with the Board of Trustees to allocate the resources necessary to ensure that social justice is at the heart of Beth Haverim Shir Shalom’s mission.

What We Do

There are many ways of performing Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) here at Beth Haverim Shir Shalom. The Michelle Mitzvah Group, Brotherhood, Sisterhood, the Caring Committee, the Youth Group, and other temple committees, are all involved in social action activities. Below are just a few examples — for a more extensive list, see above.

Register with the Gift of Life

Each year thousands of patients worldwide search for a suitable donor for a stem cell or bone marrow transplant. They rely upon a stranger for hope. Registering is easy and done through a simple cheek swab.  Eligibility is open to anyone between the ages of 18 and 60 and in generally good health.  As the Talmud says, “He who saves a life, it is as if he has saved an entire world.”  If you have already been previously swabbed, there is no need to swab again. Monetary donations are also needed, though not required. Each swab costs $60 to process, so any amount is greatly appreciated! To learn about Gift of Life in 60 seconds, click here.

Center for Food Action (CFA)  – The Michelle Mitzvah Group has an ongoing year-round collection effort for the CFA located in Mahwah. There are baskets and poster signs located in the front entrance and education wing of the synagogue. In addition to donating food, volunteers are always needed to help bring the food to the CFA.

When you order Bimah Baskets, usually donated by Bar/Bat mitzvah families, the products purchased are delivered to the need of your choice, including Center for Food Action, (including a baby basket), Animal shelter in Oakland, etc.

Emergency Family Shelter of the Inter-religious Fellowship of Bergen CountyThe Emergency Family Shelter provides meals and a safe place to sleep for several families who have demonstrated to the Community Action Program, (a county-run social work program) that they need a limited time to get back on their feet. Through the Michelle Mitzvah Group we “host” four nights every May. We need volunteers to prepare and serve a hot dinner while others will be needed to stay overnight and help with breakfast the next morning.

Coat DriveThe Coat Drive, run by New Jersey Cares, is again sponsored by the Michelle Mitzvah Group through December 15.  We contribute hundreds of winter coats annually. Please donate your coats to this important event.

The Michelle Mitzvah Group began a campaign to collect cartoon bandages and art supplies/toys for children with cancer and blood disorders at Hackensack Hospital.  We are working closely with The Tomorrows Children’s Fund on this project.  This is a great opportunity for all BHSS families to work together on a mitzvah project. Stay tuned for more information on this much-needed effort.

Barbara Weiss Scholarship Fund: Donations from the congregation and Sisterhood.  Money is given to the rabbi per her request to students for camp, trips, etc.