A Message from Your Co-Chairs
Giving thanks. Being mindful. Experiencing a sense of gratitude. More than an abundant feast, the American holiday of Thanksgiving reminds us to pause, catch our breath and take stock of our blessings.
This year, as many of us gather in-person with family and friends, we have reasons to celebrate. We are part of a caring and devoted Kehillah, our Temple Emanu-El community, each of us connected to the other in some meaningful way.
The Social Justice Committee, in particular, has enjoyed a busy and purposeful year. We made significant inroads feeding the food-insecure in Dunwoody and Sandy Springs. We helped vulnerable women and children by providing meals, coats and reading materials.
We have done our part to be good stewards of the earth and make better use of our natural resources. We have supported Afghan refugees who are carving out new lives for themselves and their families in the Atlanta area. We have planted daffodils to grow our garden and to honor the memories of Holocaust victims. There is always more we can do and an open door for you to join our team.
So, this holiday season, as you pass the turkey and enjoy your pumpkin pie, think about specific steps you can take to perform works of good and make our world a more fair and equitable place.
Be inspired. Get engaged. Perform a mitzvah. Together, we can make the Tikkun Olam Times a vehicle for compassion and change.
With warm regards,
Wendy Frank and Julie Mokotoff
Social Justice Co-Chairs at Temple Emanu-El
Maimonides’ Levels of Giving: Eight Rungs on a Golden Ladder By Julie Mokotoff
"We are obligated to be more scrupulous in fulfilling the commandment of charity than any other positive commandment, because charity is the sign of a righteous man."
Jewish scholar, rabbi, philosopher and physician
More than 800 years after proposing his code of charity, Maimonides’ framework for justice-based giving, still holds true (although the language of the current day would be more inclusive to include righteous men and righteous women).
Referred to as The Golden Ladder, the code identifies eight levels of giving. The higher the rung or level on the ladder, the greater the charitable achievement. According to Maimonides, those who give willingly and anonymously have reached the highest rung.
To learn more about Maimonides and his levels of charitable giving, click the link below:
At Temple Emanu-El, there are many ways for congregants to engage in justice-based giving. Some of us give freely of our time and ideas while others contribute financially to campaigns that provide food, clothing, shelter and other fundamentals of living to the vulnerable in our community. Others advocate for those most in need, providing a voice for the voiceless. Your Social Justice Committee offers many meaningful opportunities to get involved and repair cracks in our fragile world.
This Thanksgiving, as we count our blessings and reflect on moments of gratitude, consider which level of giving is the right fit for you. Remember, there is no right or wrong answer, only opportunities to grow, learn and engage.
Green Team Wins Environmental Award By Rich Lapin
Volunteer members of Temple Emanu-El’s Green Team won the IPL Partner Green Team Award from Faith in Place (FIP). FIP is an affiliate of Interfaith Power & Light (IPL) whose efforts focus on empowering people of all faiths to be leaders in caring for the Earth, providing resources to educate, connect, and advocate for healthier communities.
Green Team chairs Bea Grossman, Karen Singer and Art Katz began leading the Green Team in 2017. Over time, they reduced energy waste while improving energy usage rates. Other initiatives reduced food-related waste, as well as paper and ink usage by leveraging forms of electronic communication. Additional activities involved decreasing food insecurity in the Sandy Springs community by food grown on sanctuary grounds.
The activities were a practical application of the Jewish principle of Tikkun Olam or repairing the world.
“This award was the result of many efforts by a range of people including our Temple’s Board of Trustees, our clergy, and individual caring congregants,” Grossman said. “Our goal early on was to make sustainability a part of the synagogue’s DNA. While we’re proud of our progress, more remains to be done.”
We are very proud of our Green Team and the important work they have done not only to win this award but to cultivate the Jewish value of stewardship and protecting our environment.
If you are interested in learning more about the Green Team or joining their efforts to reduce waste and increase sustainability,
contact Karen Singer at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bea Grossman at email@example.com.
Coats and Cans Drive a Huge Success By Beth Sherman and Julie Mokotoff
Midrash Psalms 118:17 tells us, “When you are asked in the world to come, ‘What was your work?’ and you answer, ‘I fed the hungry,’ you will be told, ‘This is the gate of Adonai, enter into it, you who have fed the hungry.”
In that spirit, Temple Emanu-El conducted our annual coat and canned goods drive to reduce food insecurity in our community. Known as Project Isaiah, our mission is to provide hardworking families, hungry children and struggling seniors with greater access to nutritionally-dense food as well as warm, winter coats so that they can lead a healthy and active lifestyle.
Thanks to your generosity, we not only met but exceeded our goals.
See below for more details.
Project Isaiah 2021 by the numbers:
20 barrels of food collected
4,400 pounds of food collected and distributed
150 coats collected and distributed
3 recipient agencies
The Community Assistance Center (CAC) and the Food Pantry at Jewish Family and Career Services (JF&CS) received the canned goods while the women and children of Mary Hall Freedom Village (MHFV) received the coats.
Special thank you to Beth and Eric Sherman who devoted many hours coordinating with recipient agencies, as well as sorting and bagging the coats.
For more information about Project Isaiah and our annual coats and canned goods collection,
contact Beth Sherman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Religious School Participates in Daffodil Project By Wendy Frank and Karen Singer
On October 24, students in sixth, seventh and eighth grade from the Diamond Family Religious School (DFRS) at Temple Emanu-El partnered with the Atlanta-based Am Yisrael Chai to expand the synagogue’s Living Holocaust Memorial Garden. Sixty-five students planted 643 daffodil bulbs to supplement more than 500 bulbs DFRS students planted in recent years. The planting was part of the worldwide Daffodil Project.
After watching an educational video prepared by the U.S. Holocaust Museum, students were introduced to Dr. Andrea Videlefsky, founder and president of Am Yisrael Chai. Students learned that the mission of the Daffodil Project was to plant 1.5 million bulbs around the world memorializing the 1.5 million children murdered in the Holocaust. The on-going project supports children suffering genocide and humanitarian crises around the world. Over 664,000 bulbs have been planted to date worldwide, in Israel, Poland, the Netherlands, Japan, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany and Atlanta.
Daffodils are symbolic because their shape and yellow bloom are reminiscent of the yellow star Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. Yellow is the color of remembrance. Daffodils are resilient and return with a burst of color and energy each spring, signifying hope, renewal and beauty.
Following the planting, students participated in a Daffodil Demi Dash and ran in front of the synagogue. The three races were short versions of the annual ones Am Yisrael Chai sponsors each spring. Temple Emanu-El is planning to sponsor a team in this year’s city-wide Daffodil Dash scheduled for April 3, 2022. Funds raised from the contest will support Holocaust education and the Atlanta Holocaust Survivor fund that provides medical, dental and home care for Holocaust survivors. Funds will also be raised for children suffering in global humanitarian crises.
In addition to planting daffodils, students were invited to participate in the Am Yisrael Chai Bar/Bat Mitzvah Twinning Project, which honors the memory of children who perished in the Holocaust and never had a chance to celebrate the important milestone. Temple Emanu-El has had 20 pairs of twins in the last five years.
Interested in learning more about the Twinning Project? Contact Am Yisrael Chai at email@example.com.
Prior Bar and Bat Mitzvah students have painted ceiling tiles with the names of their twins, who were added to the DFCS hallway. The hallway is a beautiful remembrance of daffodils painted amongst the stars in the night sky.
Special thanks to Karen Singer for helping to plan this very special event as well as the following DFRS Mahadrim: Avi Frank, who is on the Am Yisrael Youth Leadership Board and continues to promote these important efforts, Harrison Frank, Ben Dubrow, Emma Wynn and Jenny Sullivan.
This program is a great example of the ongoing partnership between the Social Justice Committee and DFRS who are both committed to inspiring our kids to incorporate acts of Tikkun Olam into their lives on a regular basis.
JF&CS Food Pantry Mitzvah Project By FRANCIS CLARK, 7th grader
Almost every time my family drives from our house to Temple Emanu-El, we see people on the side of major roads asking for help — money and even food. Because there are people hungry in our own community, for my bar mitzvah project, I wanted to help them. In my bar mitzvah Torah portion of Mikeitz, Jacob’s 10 oldest sons travel to Egypt in search of food, and meet Joseph in disguise, who gives them food to take back to their families. In our community, the Jewish Family & Career Services Food Pantry receives donations of food and money. On a day off from school during fall break, I volunteered at the food pantry to help their clients, hungry people who are food-insecure.
I arrived at 10 am for training and a tour. JF&CS has a lot of food that they give away to people in need. It was easy to get to the pantry and everyone there was pretty nice and glad that I was able to help. When clients came around 11 a.m., I helped sign people in. Most clients came early. When it wasn’t so crowded, I restocked shelves and folded boxes. The pantry closed at 2 p.m. I didn’t feel pressured into doing more than I could. It was hot outside, but that’s a seasonal thing. I’m sure volunteers can dress for the weather — even though many people in need may need appropriate clothes or even shelter. Volunteering was easy, and we were able to feed over thirty families.
JF&CS is an excellent food pantry. It’s easy to donate to, volunteer at, and receive food from JF&CS. The food pantry has a wide variety of foods to choose from and a whole section of Kosher foods for Jewish families, but it helps everyone who needs help. People who keep Kosher and people who don’t can both donate and volunteer at JF&CS. If you don’t want to donate food, you can just donate money. You can even direct it to a specific JF&CS team or fundraiser of your choice.
I’m glad I volunteered to find out how easy it is to help a small response to the big problem of hunger in our community. That is why I believe that Temple Emanu-El congregants should donate to JF&CS food bank, and volunteer there on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, if you can.
Temple Emanu-El Expands its Backpack Buddies Program By Julie Weiser and Julie Mokotoff
It’s hard for many of us to imagine a Thanksgiving dinner without a big turkey and all the fixings. It’s heart-breaking to think about families who are hungry at a time when others enjoy an abundance of food. And yet, that’s exactly what happens in thousands of communities across this country. Hunger is everywhere, including right here in our backyard.
In Georgia, one in four children doesn’t have enough food to eat. Many of these kids receive breakfast and lunch at school which means Saturday and Sunday, they go hungry. That’s where Backpack Buddies (BPB) comes into play. The goal of BackPack Buddies is to bridge the hunger gap for children on weekends and make sure that they stay nourished for the subsequent week.
Temple Emanu-El partners with three schools - Chestnut Elementary and Peachtree Middle School in DeKalb County as well as Spalding Drive Elementary in Fulton County - to reduce the hunger barrier and nourish food-insecure children.
Every Sunday throughout the school year, we pack bags of breakfast, lunch, and snacks for 65 children. The bags include non-perishable, nutritionally-dense items such as peanut butter, granola bars, canned fruit, oatmeal, boxed mac n’ cheese, enriched cereal, juice boxes and shelf-stable milk.
Please join us in this mitzvah by volunteering to pack bags on Sunday mornings, drive bags on Mondays to our partner schools, and/or make a donation to Backpack Buddies on the Temple Emanu-El website. See the Backpack Buddies sign up link in the Kesher Quick for more information.
If you have any questions about the Backpack Buddies Program and who we serve, please reach out to Julie and David Weiser at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Assisting Afghan Refugees By Lauren Menis
We are so proud of and grateful for our Temple Emanu-El community for its robust response to the request to help Afghan refugee families resettling in Atlanta. Congregants gave generously, buying gift cards and making donations that totaled $4,240.
Our synagogue-wide initiative has spanned individual congregants, the Schiff Preschool, Diamond Family Religious School students and Sisterhood. It is a true community effort! Our partnership with New American Pathways (NAP), an Atlanta refugee resettlement agency, has enabled us to tailor donation requests to fit the needs of local refugees.
Because our goal is to not just to help families with the necessities of living but to also provide emotional support and nurturing, the Sisterhood and Social Justice committees have joined forces to sponsor a Breakfast and Basket Making Event on Sunday, December 5th from 9:30 am - 11:30 am. During the event, we will make Care Baskets for 52 Afghan families. All supplies will be ordered in advance so we can gather as a community and assemble these beautiful welcome baskets together.
Baskets will include a heartfelt custom drawing with “Welcome” written in an Afghan dialect (see picture above), drawings and letters from our preschoolers and religious school students and books curated especially for the children and adults who want to use them to practice English. Other basket items include: traditional Afghani foods eaten during the holidays (dried fruits and nuts), blankets, treats and personal care items.
Spots are limited to attend the basket-making event so make sure to RSVP HERE. Even if you can’t attend the December 5 event, you can support the people who need it most. Just click the link and check the box that says, “Yes, I would like to support Afghan refugees”.
Stepping up to help people who are in dire need has been a collaborative effort and our community should feel proud of the results.
A special thanks to Julie Leven, Linda Rickles and Edye Summerfield for spearheading the efforts to conceptualize and buy supplies for 52 Welcome Baskets for Afghan Refugee families, to Ziva London for working with the Diamond Religious School on this project, to Beth Sherman for sourcing the books and to Nora Florsheim for her leadership on the basket making event.
Welcome Atlanta Food Distribution By Claudia Rolan and Julie Mokotoff
In partnership with the Atlanta Mayor’s office and the Welcoming Atlanta Program, Temple Emanu-El worked from March through October to feed hungry families in the Sandy Springs / Roswell Road neighborhood. A generous grant from the city of Sandy Springs allowed us to help our community during the pandemic and a time of great need. Our volunteers came together monthly or bimonthly to provide nutritionally-dense and culturally appropriate food so recipient families could enjoy healthy meals together. Serving the Hispanic community meant providing tortillas, flour, corn, tomatoes, rice, beans, cilantro, oranges, and other seasonal produce. See the chart below for more details:
Welcoming Atlanta by the Numbers
15 food distributions
1,155 families fed
5,198 individuals fed
30,450 pounds of dry goods distributed
1,270 sets of groceries ordered
Thank you to all the volunteers who gave their time and positive energy to assist others and serve as ambassadors for our synagogue. Many of you were “repeat customers”, rolling up your sleeves and working in hot parking lots to lift crates, assemble food and offer encouraging words of assistance in English and Spanish. Special thank you to Nora Floersheim for serving as translator as well as Brotherhood, Stuart Dunowitz and Rabbi Spike, who showed up week after week to unload heavy groceries from trucks.
Despite the level of success that we achieved, our last distribution occurred in October. We refocused our efforts for two very important reasons. First, we used all of our funding. Second, Solidarity Sandy Springs, a community pantry providing groceries and support to the food-insecure, starting serving the same population. As a result, the need for Temple Emanu-El was no longer there.
We are proud of what we achieved and grateful to all the volunteers that participated with their time and effort. Not only was this experience an opportunity to form a partnership with the Mayor’s office, it was also an opportunity to strengthen Temple Emanu-El’s connection with our diverse community.
For any questions about our food distributions with Welcoming Atlanta, contact Claudia at email@example.com.
Temple Emanu-El Partners with IsraAID To Help the World’s Most Vulnerable By Julie Mokotoff
During this season of giving, our congregation can be especially proud of the relationship we cultivated with IsraAid, a non-governmental, humanitarian aid agency based in Israel. Known for helping the world’s most vulnerable populations, IsraAid responds to emergencies across the globe with targeted disaster relief. Such assistance takes the form of search and rescue efforts, rebuilding communities and schools, providing food packages, hygiene kits and medical assistance, as well as post-traumatic stress care.
From earthquakes in Thailand, hurricanes in Puerto Rico, epidemics in Africa and forced displacement in Syria, IsraAID’s team of doctors, nurses, scientists, translators, social workers, teachers and engineers collaborates with local communities to supply knowledge, experience, technology and tools, often as the first “boots on the ground”. Regardless of politics, religion, and ethnicity, IsraAID mobilizes and mobilizes quickly. Their goal is to build resilience in local communities, reduce the risk of future disasters and repair lives.
The agency’s most recent rescue missions include: embedding an emergency response team in Haiti, responding to the COVID-19 crisis in India, and following the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, evacuating 167 Afghans, including a woman thought to be Afghanistan’s last remaining Jew.
Knowing the positive impact IsraAID has made across the world, our congregants raised nearly $3,000 in support of IsraAID’s Emergency Response Fund. The money will go directly to the people and communities impacted by natural disasters and global crises.
To find out more about IsraAID and their mission of repairing the world, visit their website at https://www.israaid.org. You can also click the link to read the Jewish Insider article entitled 'The story of how a group of Israelis rescued Afghans fleeing from the Taliban' https://jewishinsider.com/2021/10/afghans-fleeing-israelis-rescued.
Volunteers Needed for Community Assistance Center
Attention all volunteers! After a long absence due to COVID-19, Temple Emanu-El is now running the CAC food pantry and boutique the second Saturday of the month.
Do a Mitzvah
Spend time with friends and help distribute food and clothing to those in need. Clients and volunteers are required to masks. Social Distancing will be followed and the number of people in the building limited.
Questions or want to sign up for this worthwhile event? Contact Karen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Volunteers Needed for Zaban Paradies Couples Center
Attention all volunteers! We need help providing dinner for couples transitioning from homelessness to independence. This is a great mitzvah project for families, friends and chavarot.
Urgent need for December
Dates available from December 2021 through April, 2022.
Due to the Pandemic, meals are drop off only with up to 4 servers optional. For further details and to volunteer, please use this link or the link provided in the Kesher Quick.
Questions? Call or email Nancy at email@example.com or 770-714-4475.