There is a component of being Jewish that involves the concept of Tikkun Olam, which is commonly translated as repair the world. It refers to a wide range of activities that help others via service and philanthropy. We at Or Chadash use the Social Justice and Action Committee as one vehicle for our members to perform Tikkun Olam and indeed there is no lack of things that need repairing or at least a bit of help in our community. In this season of reflection and appeals, your contributions to the Congregation Or Chadash annual appeal enable us to keep operating and reach out to those in need in our community.
Before telling you about our committee let me tell you how I got involved. I really have to start with my Dad. Growing up as kids we had no idea of the impact he had in our community. He never mentioned what he did. He was just Dad. As we got older, we slowly learned from others that he was a significant contributor to several Jewish causes and to our synagogue. He did it in a way that did not attract attention to himself. He quietly helped others in the family when they needed it. I just learned in the last month that he tried to resolve a long-standing feud between two of my cousins and even helped to take care of one of their children that was alienated by the fight.
Some of his personality rubbed off on me and I have made my efforts to help others, in particular via education. I am very convinced that if we can give people a meaningful education, they will have the tools to be successful and contribute to our society. When we came to Tucson and joined Or Chadash I got involved with the Social Action Committee. I saw that we did not have an educational service program and contacted the TUSD director of elementary ed to see how we might find a school. It turned out that during that call the new principal of Wright Elementary, a Title 1 School, was walking by and overheard the conversation. She quickly said “We’ll take them!”. That settled it, and several of us started working directly with the students at Wright as well as collecting school supplies and books for summer reading.
Members of our committee work with a number of other organizations in Tucson, which you can find on the Or Chadash website. Let me tell you about one other we have helped. Sister Jose Woman’s Center used to take care of homeless women in an old house that maybe housed a dozen women in an emergency. It was clear that they needed to expand. Members of our Congregation stepped up to help them raise funds for a new facility and others volunteered then and today at the new Center to handle the significantly larger population.
My punch line is that you don’t have to be a member of our committee to help others, but everyone should make an effort to do whatever they can to give your time and financial support to those in need.
Two events are coming up where you can make a difference. Project Isaiah is going on now. You will receive a bag as you leave services today. All you have to do is bring it back on Yom Kippur full of food for the needy that will go to the Food Bank of Southern Arizona. In addition you can write a check to Or Chadash to support the program or – just write that check instead of the food.
The other is a community-wide Pack-a-thon on Sunday, Oct 27, where we need a bunch of volunteers age 10 and older to pack meals for 50,000 needy Tucson citizens. They can also use a little financial help to cover the food cost.