Social Action Divrei Torah

By Steve Peckman: Chairman, Social Action Committee

D’var Torah – 13 January 2012

Social Action Service – “Shemot”


The Hebrew word for both the book of Exodus, and tonight’s Torah portion is “Shemot”, which translates to “Names”, which in context refers to the names of the sons of Jacob, it begins in slavery and ends in deliverance for the Jewish people. 

Powerful deeds are delivered every day, by ordinary people like you and me.
The Temple Beth Miriam Community collectively aims to stretch out its arms as far as possible in various ways to help people who are asking in their own way, for their own reasons, and not just on Rosh Hashanah, “I look to the mountains, from where comes my help?”  I am happy to tell you that via Midnight Runs, Blood Drives, Food Collections and many other methods and events; that we have answered many calls when our own community, and the community at-large has needed it.  Most times, we never hear the actual cry for help; we just sense that there is someone out there that we may never meet, that is in need of a square meal, a warm coat or a pint of blood.

Through our vibrant Kishre Halev program, we pass that sensitivity forward to our children that are becoming young adults as B’nai Mitzvah, to leverage our already existing efforts, to let them experience the amazing feeling of performing true mitzvot, and to more fully realize the becoming of a son or daughter of the Commandments.

Getting back to the Torah portion, in the context of tonight’s Social Action service, I would like to dial ahead 180 or so generations from the time of Jacob, to right now, concerning the tribes of Jacob that currently inhabit the earth, specifically in our region of New Jersey.  I would also like to further focus in on just one of the names of this tribe, “yours”.

As we have just recently celebrated another “trip around the sun” on New Year’s eve, when I am sure that we all made some additional resolutions…I am curious to know how many of us  had on our “to-do lists for 2012” to become more “socially active” in our community this year; please, don’t all raise your hands at once.  Don’t worry; it is not too late to figuratively raise your hand, as we still have 353 days left in this solar year.

I am not suggesting to you that I need you all to join the Social Action Committee tonight, although you are most certainly welcome to give me your e-mail address after services tonight, and I will add you to our mailing list, and we’ll hope to see you at a meeting in the near future.

When we hosted our last blood drive here, I learned a very interesting statistic about our blood supply.   I learned that if everyone who regularly donates blood, gave blood just once more per year, there would be no blood shortage.  We don’t need everybody over the age of 16 to give blood 6 times a year, the “promised land” at the blood bank is much nearer than that.  If you gave twice last year, and you give three times this year, that works.  If you give as often as they will let you, and you encourage a friend that has never donated before to come with you one time, that also works. 

Since my Facebook page has a peak level of activity on my birthday, for the past 2 years, I have responded to every virtual well wisher that the best gift they could give me is to donate a pint of blood at their local blood bank.  Last year, 6 people did it, and this year you better believe that I will repeat that gift request.

Here is how, and how not, to get more involved:
Please do not send me an e-mail message that says, “Social Action should do this”.  As Paula is fond of saying, “bring us a solution”; and take part of creating and delivering that solution.  “How?” you ask?

What I am suggesting to you tonight, is to “raise your hand” just once more than you did last year for a start. You can do that by joining us for a Social Action activity that you read about in E-lijah this year, or maybe sign on to be a Kishre Halev mentor for just one B’nai Mitzvah candidate this year.  I invite you to come to just one, or as many monthly Social Action Committee meetings as you can to join us in creating a plan for one of the many issues that is currently on the table, or to share your passion for a cause that means something to you with the group, and to “help us help you” find extra sets of hands to address it together.  By the way, the next meeting is Sunday, February 5th at 10:30am.

TBM’s Social Action Committee has a new Facebook group page, and we will be posting more news items on the Temple’s main website too.

When we speak of having not just a name for ourselves, but a “Shem Tov”, a good name, there are many ways to satisfy your thirst for repairing the world very close by, and the Committee and I look forward to seeing you and hearing from you soon.

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom.


By Milt Ziment

Social Action Service

January 13, 2012

 I am so proud to be a member of the Social Action Committee of Temple Beth Miriam that it is hard to be brief (as I was requested to be) but I’ll try.

Our committee was responsible for collecting bags of food on the High Holidays and realizing that people get hungry all the time, we installed the first collection unit in the lobby which was built by Aaron Schectman. Having outgrown that small unit, we are grateful for the beautiful and more spacious unit designed, built and installed by Dan Spector.

Members of the group have also participated on Mitzvah Day by collecting donated food outside of supermarkets and sorting and delivering truckloads to the proper centers.

We continue to remember and try to help the hungry people in our community.

Representing our committee and Temple Beth Miriam, I have, for many years, conducted a bi-weekly Shabbat Service at the Atria, an assisted-living complex inTintonFalls, using theTemple’s old thin gray  prayer books.

In cooperation with the Purim Basket Committee we have provided Purim baskets to the Atria’s Jewish residents. 

At Passover, on the day of the Seder, before our own celebrations, with the assistance of the Knotts family Beth, Tim, and their children, we have organized and conducted a traditional Seder including musical accompaniment for the songs.

We have also all been there at Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Chanukah with appropriate worship services, music, games, etc.  On Chanukah, these have included the lighting of the menorah, providing and serving the traditional Latkes, sour cream, applesauce and apple cider, as well as,  accompaniment for singing all the appropriate songs for the Holiday. This year, the Knotts family, with Sierra and Kiralee, and the Topper family with Steven, Michael and Elliot, brought the delighted audience the combination of 2 violins, a guitar, and a saxaphone,  The residents have come to love these 2 lovely families and the sentiment is returned by the families.

I am grateful to be involved and find it very satisfying to be able to make even a small difference in the lives of people less fortunate than I.

 Every member of Temple Beth Miriam could get this same good feeling by supporting  the Social Action Committee with ongoing contributions of non-perishable food, or time, or, even (if I dare say it) money.

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